Caroline Russell by Chris King Photography

News from Caroline Russell: Rattled Mayor defends his polluting Silvertown road tunnel

21 June 2019

Rattled Mayor defends his polluting Silvertown road tunnel

The Mayor adopted a defensive tone today when challenged by Caroline Russell AM over his plans to build a new road tunnel at Silvertown in East London during Mayor’s Question Time. 

His determination to focus on road congestion and ignore the project’s implications for climate change were startlingly at odds with his stated intentions to reduce London’s carbon emissions.

Despite having, minutes earlier, proudly announced his planned car-free day and spoken of the importance of car-free travel for Londoners and the need to reduce air pollution, the Mayor seemed determined to push ahead with his controversial road tunnel. 

Caroline was joined in the chamber by a large crowd of residents from the Silvertown area, including many young people from Thomas Tallis Secondary School in Greenwich, who came to show they want clean air and people friendly streets not a motorway thundering through their community. 

Urging him not to sign a contract for its construction, particularly so near the end of his term in office, Caroline cautioned that any future Mayor who decides to scrap the scheme will be saddled with huge cancellation fees. The Silvertown Tunnel could well end up becoming this Mayor’s Garden Bridge. [1]

Caroline also challenged the Mayor to justify the project in the light of the climate emergency, which he declared in December of last year. [2]

Caroline Russell says:

In a climate emergency we must take swift and decisive action to decarbonise our transport network and the Silvertown road tunnel takes us in the wrong direction. The Mayor’s rattled response to my question suggests he knows this.

Despite a question about embodied carbon and glass towers which the Mayor was happy to go away and consider, the embodied carbon in Silvertown Tunnel is apparently not his concern. 

The Mayor seems utterly determined to commit Londoners to a massive debt (for building this dinosaur tunnel at Silvertown) or a big fat cancellation fee if the next Mayor sees sense and cancels it. 

Silvertown Tunnel has no place in a climate emergency and will make a grim transport legacy for this Mayor.


Caroline stated that a new road tunnel will only invite increased traffic and entrench the vehicle-dominated motorways that sever communities in Silvertown, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets and other areas. 

The plans contradict the Mayor’s own strategy for healthy streets [3], which highlights the failings of major trunk roads that bisect neighbourhoods and blight the lives of so many Londoners. 

The estimated £1bn he plans to spend on this white elephant could be much better used in helping us to achieve our climate goals, for example on the long-delayed Rotherhithe-Canary Wharf bridge for walking and cycling [4].

Caroline noted that the Welsh Government recently cancelled the M4 extension project [5] after their climate emergency declaration, and urged the Mayor to follow this example. 

Notes to editors

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