The mayor of London should be applauded for his efforts to tackle environmental crisis (The floods show London is now on the frontline of the climate emergency, 27 July), except for insisting on the polluting £2bn Silvertown tunnel project. It will undo so much of what he has tried to achieve.
Just last week, the eminent transport specialist Phil Goodwin wrote to Sadiq Khan to highlight two environmental scenarios for London: (1) No international action is taken on climate change, and flooding gets “much more severe than has been accounted for in established emergency planning” in the Thames basin; (2) International action is taken so traffic levels in rich countries, including the UK, go down substantially (and taxpayers would have to make up the shortfall from tolls on the tunnel: it is a private finance initiative project, after all).
Neither option has been modelled by City Hall. In both cases, cancellation of the tunnel would be the most likely conclusion. The London regional Labour party has understood this and voted overwhelmingly at its conference last weekend to scrap the tunnel. Why is the mayor persisting with it?
Stop the Silvertown Tunnel coalition
It is extraordinary that Sadiq Khan is listing the Silvertown tunnel – a major highway with dedicated lanes for polluting heavy goods vehicles – as one of the solutions for London’s environmental crisis. No environmental scientist in the world would argue that building a four-lane highway with feeder roads through the most polluted areas of London would actually contribute to helping solve air pollution. It is a 1970s solution to a 21st-century problem.
London’s doctors, nurses, teachers, parents, environmental and traffic specialists, local communities and unions (and Labour party members across London at their annual conference last weekend) have called on the mayor to cancel the Silvertown tunnel.
The mayor is doing good things for the environment. Unfortunately, the Silvertown tunnel will undo most of his legacy.