Likely carbon emissions increases from Silvertown Road Tunnel (2)

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 7th June 2021.

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Photo of Siân Berry Siân Berry Green

The Energy and Carbon statement for the Silvertown Road Tunnel states that emissions due to the project would represent a 0.4 per cent increase in projected 2030 emissions for road transport in London. Given that this tunnel will have a high proportion of freight traffic which cannot be decarbonised as rapidly as other vehicles, will the proportion of London’s overall road emissions from traffic using the tunnel and approaches increase as you decarbonise other road transport and what analysis of this have you carried out?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

In my response to Mayor’s Question 2021/1468, I explained Transport for London’s (TfL’s) current analysis on the expected composition of traffic at Blackwall Tunnel with and without the Silvertown Tunnel scheme in place. TfL does not expect the Silvertown Tunnel scheme to have a significant impact on the proportion of freight trips at this river crossing, and in fact expects the user charge to result in a small decrease in heavy freight traffic at Blackwall/Silvertown by discouraging such vehicles from diverting into London to avoid the Dartford Crossing charge.

TfL has clear plans to ensure it delivers the benefits and manages the impacts of the Silvertown Tunnel scheme, including those associated with freight transport emissions. TfL’s plans include further analysis with modelling and monitoring of traffic and emissions before and after the scheme is open, currently planned for 2025. This will build on the previous analysis that informed the Development Consent Order (DCO) application and be reported publicly through the Silvertown Tunnel Implementation Group. It will take into account new commitments since the DCO application, for example the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone and the wider decarbonisation of the transport network, including TfL’s bus fleet.

The Blackwall Tunnel is an important route for delivery and servicing traffic and, as a result, goods vehicles make up a larger proportion of all trips through the tunnel than on the overall road network. That said, the number of freight trips expected through the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels is only a small fraction of overall freight in London.

While TfL is committed to further analysis of the effects of the Silvertown Tunnel on freight and associated emissions, it is also focused on analysing freight across London and working with industry partners to reduce freight emissions, including through innovative programmes such as LoCity. For example, HGV manufacturers such as DAF are developing battery electric versions of their vehicles (see https://www.daf.co.uk/en-gb/trucks/alternative-fuels-and-drivelines/battery-electric-vehicles), which will further reduce emissions while still ensuring deliveries are made in the future, and companies in the last-mile delivery sector are already using significant numbers of electric vehicles in London. As these and other businesses adapt their fleets with this new technology, there will be further reductions in emissions which will help to decarbonise the transport network and clean up London's toxic air. TfL’s wider analysis will continue to be published through the Travel in London reports.