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Newham has the worst air quality in the UK - and some of the poorest communities in London. The Silvertown Tunnel will make already polluted air worse for thousands of Newham residents. How can you justify imposing this scheme on them, without their consent - and then making them pay for it through a new toll to cross the river?
We have made great strides in reducing pollution in Newham and across London. I have introduced the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to tackle London’s toxic air, and next year it will be expanded to the North and South Circular, which will include most of Newham.
I have also introduced a scrappage scheme to make it easier for small businesses, charities and those on low incomes to meet those standards. From October this year, the London-wide Low Emission Zone for heavy vehicles will be brought to the same standard as the ULEZ and every bus in London will meet those standards. Transport for London (TfL) are accelerating its plans to electrify the bus fleet, with plans for more than 2,000 zero-emission buses by end of 2024/25.
Assessments to date conclude the tunnel will not impact on the ability of the Greater London Urban Area to achieve compliance with the Air Quality Directive, and will have an overall beneficial impact on air quality, particularly in locations of the poorest air quality.
Furthermore, TfL will carry out additional air quality monitoring in Newham before and after the tunnel opens. If necessary, mitigation will be developed should air quality be materially different from that predicted as a result of the tunnel.
Central to the Silvertown scheme is the introduction of a user charge for both the Silvertown and Blackwall tunnels in order to control demand and manage the impacts of the new crossing, and this could be set to incentivise cleaner journeys. Also, as part of my review of the scheme in 2016, TfL has committed to discounts for local residents on low incomes, as well as concessionary bus travel for local residents.