DfT and Sadiq Khan urged to rethink ‘foolhardy’ Silvertown Tunnel

Academics and campaigners have written to transport secretary Grant Shapps, and Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, calling for an emergency review of the Silvertown Tunnel project on climate grounds.

The group of 52 academics and campaigners said the controversial project, which was granted a Development Consent Order (DCO) in 2018, said the 14km tunnel would “contribute to the UK’s excessive greenhouse gas emissions” as well as “skewing London’s transport system further towards roads, and exacerbating local air pollution problems”. 

The signatories are urging the government to cancel the DCO, or to freeze work on the project while an inquiry is conducted. 

They argue that since the DCO was issued, the UK parliament and the Greater London Authority “are among the many bodies internationally to have declared that we are in a climate emergency”. 

The signatories also state that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, long-term transport projections have changed and that in these circumstances, it would be foolhardy to press ahead with an infrastructure.

The group point to the  government’s decision to review the licensing of a new deep coal mine in Cumbria. 

“This was a correct decision in view of the climate emergency, which requires both that total emissions be reduced swiftly in this decade, and that infrastructure projects that could underpin higher emissions in future be avoided,” they claim.

According to the group, if the government is to meet its fourth and fifth carbon budgets, “transport strategy in London, and the UK as a whole, needs to prioritise modal shift and public transport, not further expansion of the unsustainable road network”. 

It said the “Silvertown project like the Cumbrian coal mine, undermining the UK’s efforts to address climate change”.

The DfT would not comment due the pre-election period restrictions.