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Silvertown tunnel among projects hailed as ‘exemplar’ boost to London economy

Work is under way on the proposed Silvertown tunnel under the Thames, due to open in 2025  (TfL)
Work is under way on the proposed Silvertown tunnel under the Thames, due to open in 2025 (TfL)

The Silvertown tunnel has been listed alongside an extension of the Elizabeth line and the Bakerloo line expansion as an “exemplar” project that will help to boost London’s economy.

The tunnel, a controversial £2bn PFI scheme from Mayor Sadiq Khan that eco campaigners regard as an “inner-city motorway” likely to worsen air pollution, is due to open in 2025, linking north Greenwich and the Royal Docks.

But it has been opposed by both Newham and Greenwich councils – making its inclusion in a new “framework” drawn up by London Councils, the umbrella organisation that represents all 33 boroughs, a surprise.

London Councils said that the 67 projects on its list were “strategic priorities” for the capital, though said that not all could be assumed to have the support of all the boroughs, even if they had “value” at a pan-London level.

The Bakerloo line extension, taking it south from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham, has long been on a “wish list” but Transport for London has no funds to build it.

The success of the Elizabeth line, which marks its first anniversary next week, has led to demands to extend services from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet.

Other “Londonwide exemplars” include the West London Orbital rail route, the HS2 high-speed line to Euston – which has been paused for two years to ease cash-flow problems – and the DLR extension to Thamesmead.

Tunnel vision: work on the Silvertown tunnel is at the half-way stage (Ross Lydall)
Tunnel vision: work on the Silvertown tunnel is at the half-way stage (Ross Lydall)

A spokeswoman for the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel coalition said: “How can it be a shining example to London Councils to support a massively expensive infrastructure project which has received continuous and widespread opposition?

“Health, climate and transport experts along with residents and local councils on both sides of the river have repeatedly calling for a pause and repurposing of this harmful road.

“If ‘exemplar’ projects include those which completely deny the climate crisis, and increase pollution, carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuel freight instead of green transport means, then we really are on a road to ruin.”

London Councils wants the Government to devolve more power to the capital to help deliver the schemes.

Elizabeth Campbell, London Councils’ executive member, said: “Boroughs are collaborating like never before to promote infrastructure investment in the capital and help us achieve our shared vision of a more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable London.

“By setting out boroughs’ agreed priorities and the exciting range of development opportunities across the capital, the London infrastructure framework will drive investment towards where it will make the most difference.”