Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said that cancelling the Silvertown Tunnel “is not an option that is sensible”.
The proposed road tunnel that will run under the Thames between Greenwich and Silvertown has been met with vocal opposition over fears it will lead to increased air pollution in the area.
But the Mayor of London today revealed there were no plans to reconsider the project during a meeting of the London Assembly.
Mr Khan said: “The Assembly will be aware that the cost of cancelling the contract, without giving away commercially sensitive information, runs to a lot of money and so it’s not an option that I think is sensible.
“I’d also make the point that Londoners may not be aware of, that this is a contract which isn’t funded out of the TfL budget. It is a design, build, maintain and finance contract, and in fact it’s paid over the course of many years as revenues are raised through the toll, both on Blackwall Tunnel and on the Silvertown Tunnel.”
The mayor’s comments came following a question from Liberal Democrat member Caroline Pidgeon, who had asked whether he would “pause and rethink” the project in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Mr Khan stressed the need for another river crossing in east London and said that “doing nothing, as is being suggested, is not an option”, adding that congestion around the Blackwall Tunnel was “still the same during the worst part of the pandemic” despite fewer car journeys being made.
Concerns have been raised by climate activists, scientists and local politicians that the Silvertown Tunnel will increase levels of nitrogen dioxide, carbon emissions and particulate matter in the area as more vehicles, including lorries, use the crossing.
Sadiq Khan has said that the project will include “extensive” air quality monitoring, while TfL commissioner Andy Byford today said that he believed levels of particulate matter would be measured on the tunnel’s approach roads, despite TfL previously saying this would not be the case.