Hackney residents concerned about air quality as Silvertown Tunnel progresses

photo from February 2016
Sian Berry protesting against the Silvertown Tunnel. Pic: Simon Edge/ London Green party

Hackney residents have spoken about their concerns about air quality in the borough as work on a new four-lane road tunnel under the Thames in Greenwich looks set to begin later this year. 

Work on the Silvertown tunnel – that will link Silvertown to the Greenwich Peninsula – is set to start in 2020 though contractors have yet to be appointed.

The tunnel will not run through Hackney, but it is expected to significantly impact the air quality of Hackney residents because of the extra traffic in the area.

At a council meeting last week concerned residents asked Councillor Jon Burke, the Cabinet member for energy, waste, transport and public realm how the council will mitigate the health effects that the new tunnel will have on Hackney residents.

Burke said: “Approximately 40% of Hackney’s traffic is simply passing through the borough and this is likely to increase if the Silvertown Tunnel is built, hence why it has been Hackney Council’s position to oppose the Tunnel since 2015.”

Other Hackney residents have taken to Twitter to express their discontent with Silvertown tunnel progressing. Around 70% of Hackney residents do not own a car. 

A Liberal Democrat candidate for London mayor, Sioban Benita, describes Silvertown tunnel as an “environmental betrayal”. 

She told the Guardian: “It will mean a disastrous increase in cars, congestion and pollution at the very moment when we should be moving in the exact opposite direction.”

Last week Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, pledged that contracts for the building work for the tunnel would be made public.

The tunnel will have four lanes starting from the north of the Blackwall lane/Tunnel avenue junction, passing under the Thames cable cars taking vehicles (including buses) to the north of the river. 

According to a report in the Hackey CitizenHackney council did publicly oppose Silvertown Tunnel in a letter to Khan and urged other councils.

Last week in a report published by Public Health England, it emerged that the risk of dying from air pollution, from living in Hackney, is 7%. 

Currently, there are a few areas in Hackney where the NO2 pollution exceeds EU limits.

TFL says that the tunnel will reduce the congestion in east and southeast London. 

TFL have also recognised that there ‘may be a small localised impact’. 

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