New river crossing given go-ahead in East London

  • Video report by Political Correspondent Simon Harris

Chris Grayling has given his backing to a new road tunnel crossing of the River Thames at Silvertown in East London.

The transport secretary has granted a Development Consent Order for the crossing to be constructed. It will be the first river crossing built since the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge opened in 1991.

The crossing is expected to cost £1bn to construct and should open in 2023.

A decision had been expected last October for six months as they needed to ensure it complied Government’s national plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan previously said: "New river crossings are vital for the future prosperity of East London, and the scheme will have a substantial impact unlocking new jobs and economic growth, while easing congestion and poor air quality in the area.

"Since I became mayor I’ve been determined to ensure the Silvertown Tunnel doesn’t have a detrimental impact on our environment. That’s why the new plans have such a focus on cleaner transport, with only buses with the highest emission standard using the tunnel, and substantial investment in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure."

Local residents have been critical of the plans due to the potential impact on the area, both in terms of traffic and increased pollution.

Transport for London said it is "working with local boroughs, landowners, stakeholders and other affected parties to understand the implications of these conditions, so that this vital infrastructure project can start as soon as possible."

No to Silvertown Tunnel chair Anne Robbins said: “We’re disappointed, but we are proud to have spoken up for communities on both sides of the Thames who objected to having more traffic imposed on them.

“We still believe that this will ultimately make the congestion problem worse, by adding to traffic jams elsewhere. The environmental mitigation suggested – such as running a cycle bus through the tunnel – is a hollow joke, while tolls will just punish those who need to use the tunnel.

“This sends a terrible message to the wider world: that London is closed to new thinking on how to deal with congestion. Sadiq Khan needs to think long and hard if he wants to be the mayor that condemns thousands of people to more congestion and pollution by going ahead with this tunnel.

“We’d like to thank all those who have supported our campaign for all their help and assistance. Whatever we do next, we have been inspired by those elsewhere who have been campaigning against road building and for better air quality.”