The Silvertown Tunnel will feed into the southbound A102

One of Britain’s leading transport writers, Christian Wolmar, will be addressing a public meeting about the Silvertown Tunnel in Woolwich on Thursday.

The event aims to discuss the impact of the tunnel, which will link Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, on Woolwich and the wider area, in light of Greenwich Council’s declaration of a climate emergency.

Wolmar, a longtime opponent of the £1 billion project, will be joined by Friends of the Earth campaigner Jenny Bates and Green London Assembly member Caroline Russell, as well as Daisy Wyatt, the co-ordinator of the south-east London branch of Extinction Rebellion Youth.

Heidi Alexander, London’s deputy mayor for transport – who is overseeing the project – and Len Duvall, the London Assembly member for Greenwich & Lewisham and a supporter of the tunnel, have both been invited to speak.

The tunnel was given the go-ahead by Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, in May 2018 after a lengthy planning process, and Transport for London recently named the consortium which is set to run the tolled tunnel under a private finance initiative. Stop the Silvertown Tunnel, a group formed to mount last-ditch opposition to the scheme, is one of the organisers of the meeting along with community group Speak Out Woolwich.

Bridge The Gap campaign launch
Former council leaders Denise Hyland and Chris Roberts plugging the pro-tunnel campaign in 2013

Despite opposition from other Labour boroughs affected by the scheme, and local MP Matt Pennycook, Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe has refused to reverse the council’s steadfast support for the scheme. An attempt by Labour councillors to overturn the council’s support failed earlier this year when Peninsula ward councillors Stephen Brain and Denise Scott-McDonald – who had aligned themselves with opponents of the tunnel in the run-up to May 2018’s council election – cast the decisive votes to strike down the motion at a behind-closed-doors meeting of the council’s Labour group.

To add some further intra-Labour spice to a meeting, both Wolmar and Scott-McDonald – now publicly supporting the tunnel as Greenwich Council’s cabinet member for transport – were unsuccessful competitors in 2018 to be the Labour candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster constituency. The meeting will also feature Izzy Hickmet, the vice-chair of Greenwich Momentum, as a speaker.

London mayor Sadiq Khan claims the tunnel is needed to alleviate congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel, but opponents say the scheme will simply bring more traffic to the surrounding area, ultimately making congestion worse.

Newham, Hackney, Lewisham and Southwark councils all oppose the scheme, with Greenwich lining up alongside Tower Hamlets and Tory Bexley in favour.

The meeting will be held at St Peter’s Church, 103 Woolwich New Road, SE18 6EF, on Thursday 11 July at 7pm.

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