This morning protesters took to roads under the Blackwall Tunnel flyover to raise the issue of Silvertown Tunnel.
They gained headlines in the Evening Standard and across London so in that respect can chalk it up as a success.
1/3 Truly sorry to the individual lives we have disrupted this morning. We don’t know what else to do. We have written letters, appealed to governtment, tried to educate – nothing worked pic.twitter.com/vfPu3biGYt
— Extinction Rebellion Greenwich (@XRGreenwich) August 9, 2019
Afterwards Greenwich Council responded and made some claims which seem to defy evidence and previous research. Greenwich Peninsula Councillor Denise Scott-McDonald (Labour) stated:
“We support TfL’s plan for the Silvertown Tunnel because studies show it will actually help us achieve our sustainable transport objectives, relieving the congestion and pollution currently created by use of the Blackwall Tunnel“.
Yet traffic modelling and studies appear to show the exact opposite across much of Greenwich borough. In the image below – taken from traffic modelling forecasts – red equals worse congestion while green equals less congestion. North of the Thames wins. Most of Greenwich doesn’t:
The biggest green spot is at the mouth of the existing tunnel while the rest of the A2 gets worse, as do local streets in Greenwich and junctions such as Fiveways in Eltham. The largest beneficiaries are north of the Thames by a sizable amount.
How does that tally with “relieving the congestion and pollution currently created by use of the Blackwall Tunnel”?
One core reason for greater traffic will be lorries heading to the new tunnel from Dartford which currently cannot use Blackwall. A recently announced lorry centre beside the future tunnel offers a glimpse into the future.
Once again the issue of morning queues towards the Blackwall Tunnel is raised but not queues heading to Kent in the PM peak:
“Traffic modelling shows the initiative will result in a significant reduction in peak-time queuing on the approach to the tunnels”.
OK, that’s in one direction. But the other way? The existing A2 is at capacity each afternoon with a narrow stretch in cuttings between Falconwood, Eltham, Kidbrooke and Greenwich frequently slow moving or stationary. Adding another tunnel’s worth of traffic to it is one reason the south of the Thames is predicted to do so much worse than the north from this scheme:
Highly selective arguments appear to be used by the council avoiding the wider impact seen in traffic models and research in the public domain. A “significant reduction” in one specific location appears to be negated by a worsening situation in many others.
Protests are likely to continue in coming weeks and months both sides of the river.