Sadiq Khan criticised for Thames tunnel go-ahead


adiq Khan has been accused of undermining his own efforts to tackle London‘s toxic air by pushing ahead with a GBP2 billion road tunnel under the River Thames. The criticism from environmental campaigners comes after analysis from City Hall revealed that 98 per cent of schools in London are in areas that exceed World Health Organisation limits for PM2.5 pollution, which is made up of particles from vehicle tyres, brakes and fuel emissions. Following the publication of the figures, the Mayor said that he was doing “everything in [his] power” to prevent young Londoners breathing toxic air, including expanding the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) to the North and South Circular Roads in October.

But activists have said that Mr Khan’s decision to push ahead with the Silvertown Tunnel “poses a threat to air quality throughout the area”. The tunnel, which will link Greenwich to Newham, has come under intense scrutiny from local campaigners, climate activists and politicians.

A spokeswoman for the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel Coalition said: “Although Mayor Khan expresses deep concern about the health of London’s school children, he is blatantly ignoring his contribution to worsening the conditions and air quality for children in Greenwich and Newham. “There are several schools adjacent to the tunnel construction sites that will bear the brunt of air pollution from the 1,000-plus construction truck movements a week.”

Campaigners say they recorded up to 200 HGVs an hour passing close to St Mary Magdalene school, Greenwich.

A spokeswoman for the Mayor said: “The extension of the Ulez from this October, covering the Silvertown area, will play a crucial role in tackling congestion and improving air quality.”