The decision on whether to proceed with a new road tunnel under the Thames has been delayed by another six months, the government announced today.
Transport minister Paul Maynard said in a written statement that the deadline for the decision on Silvertown Tunnel, that would link the Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown, was to be pushed back to 10 May 2018 to enable "further consideration of the effect of the scheme on air quality".
That will include scrutiny over whether it complies with the updated UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide.
Maynard added that pushing back the decision was decided "without prejudice to the decision on whether to give development consent".
It comes after the government pushed back the decision by a month in October.
Should the tunnel be green lit, Transport for London (TfL) expects it would open in 2022 or 2023. That relies on construction getting under way next year though, made trickier by the latest delay to the decision on whether to proceed with the project.
The plans were developed to crack down on congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel and to help improve wider reliability of the road network.
A spokesperson for the mayor said:
Progressing with the Silvertown Tunnel will provide significant benefits for London, supporting jobs and growth in East London, and tackling a major area of congestion.
TfL and the mayor are also determined to ensure the Silvertown Tunnel doesn’t have a detrimental impact on our environment. That’s why the plans have such a focus on cleaner public transport, with only buses with the highest emission standards using the tunnel and significant investment in pedestrian and cycling improvements in the area.
Campaigners however, welcomed the delay.
Bridget Fox, sustainable transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We welcome the chance for a rethink, we believe that building a major highway through densely populated east London is incompatible with achieving minimum air quality standards and hope the secretary of state and mayor of London will see sense and drop these damaging plans.
“Instead, the billions that the road tunnel would cost could be better spent delivering the mayor's positive vision of healthy streets and high quality public transport.”