Porritt: Silvertown Tunnel makes mockery of Khan’s green credentials


In a letter to Sadiq Khan today, Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate, Luisa Porritt, has called on the Mayor of London to scrap the Silvertown Tunnel road project.

In her letter, she says the scheme "makes a mockery" of his “self-proclaimed green credentials” and notes that Sadiq Khan often complains he is constrained by the Government, but this is a decision he has “complete authority” over.

Porritt claims the project makes no sense environmentally or economically, explaining that no major road project has ever reduced road traffic and highlighting the estimated £2 billion cost of the scheme.

In the letter, Porritt also calls on the Mayor to drive forward proposals for road pricing in the capital, remarking that it is “incredible” that a Tory Chancellor is considering the scheme ahead of the Mayor.

Luisa Porritt’s letter coincides with a public webinar event, hosted by the Stop The Silvertown Tunnel Coalition, where a cross-party panel of politicians, activists and academics all criticised the scheme.

Sadiq Khan was virtually empty chaired, with a zoom user labelled "Not The GLA" having its camera pointed at an empty chair.

Speaking after the event, Luisa Porritt, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London, said:

“It is clear from today that the pressure is growing on Sadiq Khan. It’s time for him to wake up and understand what the future of this city looks like. The climate emergency requires urgent action. The urgent action we need in London is to stop the Silvertown Tunnel project.

“No major road project has ever reduced road traffic. Pursuing a new motorway under the Thames while public transport projects are getting scrapped on his watch makes a mockery of the Mayor’s self-proclaimed green credentials.

“I believe Londoners want to see our city at the forefront of environmental change. It’s time to scrap the Silvertown Tunnel project and invest in clean, green transport instead.”

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The letter in full is here:

Dear Sadiq,

I am writing to you, as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London, to urge you to stop the Silvertown Tunnel.

You often complain that you are constrained by the Government, but this is a hugely impactful decision over which you have complete authority. You can and must stop a polluting and expensive project, which will cause terrible environmental damage for Londoners for generations to come. 

It’s not too late. Major works have yet to begin, and Covid-19 has shown that Governments can change direction quickly if they want to.

It is essential that you wake up and understand what the future of this city looks like.

The Silvertown tunnel makes no sense environmentally. Simply building this motorway under the Thames will have an immense carbon impact.

No major road project has ever reduced road traffic. As you know, the opposite will happen. 

It makes no sense economically. We know that the true cost of this project is £2 billion. 

Tolling as a cost-recovery mechanism is senseless. This means it is in the interest of the project for lots of cars to use the crossing. There are far smarter ways to charge road users in the 21st century.

And it makes no sense to pursue it at the expense of clean, public transport projects.

From tube line extensions to pedestrian and cycling bridges, key public transport schemes are getting scrapped on your watch - yet this road is the project that survives.

It makes a mockery of your self-proclaimed green credentials.

Instead of looking to the past and outdated road projects, London needs to look to the future and:

  • Re-commit to public transport investment
  • See through the cycling and walking revolution
  • Get the city electric ready
  • And London must lead the way and introduce a smart, fair and green road pricing system.

It is incredible that a Tory Chancellor is considering this UK-wide before you are for our city. After the recent speculation on road pricing, I would expect our Mayor to be pushing their way to the front of the queue and insisting that London gets the devolved powers it needs to trial the system early.

London is at a crucial moment. We are facing the triple whammy impact of Brexit, Covid-19 and the climate emergency. But I believe that with big ideas and urgent action we can lead a strong, fair and green recovery.

The urgent action we need on the climate emergency is to Stop the Silvertown Tunnel. 

Yours sincerely,

Luisa Porritt

Liberal Democrat Candidate for Mayor of London


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