Local campaigners against the Silvertown Tunnel have revealed shocking levels of air pollution in south east London which at some places breach European limits for nitrogen dioxide.
The figures were revealed at a public meeting by a group in Greenwich which is campaigning against plans to build a new road tunnel under the Thames between the Greenwich peninsula and the Royal Docks.
The No To Silvertown Tunnel campaign carried out its own research into air pollution during the summer, attaching tubes to lamp posts to measure the nitrogen dioxide in the air around the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach, and the A2 Rochester Way Relief Road.
They found pollution levels broke European limits at several points along the route, and argue that a Silvertown Tunnel would funnel more traffic into the two link roads, causing more congestion and pollution in Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath, Kidbrooke and Eltham.
As part of their research they discovered that Greenwich Council, which also monitors air quality, had stopped publishing its findings some years ago. They put in a freedom of information request for the details, which as well as backing up the campaigners claims about air quality, reveal that pollution at the end of Deptford Church Street on Creek Road has been breaching European limits for nitrogen dioxide for more than eight years. At times the measured level at this site has reached twice the recommended level of 40µg/m3. The average level that has been measured over the past eight years is one and half times the recommended level (click on the image to see it full size).
Both London mayor Boris Johnson and Greenwich Council support the building of the Silvertown Tunnel, despite the damage it will do to the local area. Other local councils, including Lewisham, Southwark, Hackney and Redbridge are either opposed or have serious reservations.
Transport consultant John Elliott, the Campaign for Better Transport’s Sian Berry, King’s College London air quality expert Dr Ian Mudway and Clean Air London’s Simon Birkett discussed the issue at a public meeting this evening in Greenwich. Campaigners want a full and open debate about the issue, and are unhappy with Greenwich Council's continued support for the scheme.
“The Silvertown Tunnel will blight lives on both sides of the river Thames, but in Greenwich few people seem aware of the consequences of building a new road tunnel, or that there are even plans to build one,” says No to Silvertown Tunnel campaigner Chris Taylor, who took part in the community-based study.
“The A2 and A102 are London’s biggest rat-run – we get no benefit, only pollution and congestion from traffic using the Blackwall Tunnel because they want to avoid tolls at Dartford.
“Encouraging more vehicles to use these roads is madness – and will only make matters worse in the long run. We want to start a full and open debate about this issue, one which neither the mayor nor Greenwich Council want to have.”