Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan is under pressure from the Green party’s Sian Berry to “come clean” over the new Silvertown Tunnel.
The tunnel, which would connect Royal Docks with the Greenwich Peninsula, was proposed by Transport for London (TfL) with the aim of easing congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel.
Mr Khan has remained quiet on the project, which splits opinion between environmental concerns and support for infrastructure development in East London.
However this week seemed to distance himself from the tunnel plans, raising concerns about the major construction project but holding back from saying he would cancel it.
He told Transport Network: “We desperately need additional river crossings east of Tower Bridge to support and open up new development sites for affordable homes and to improve connectivity between North and South.”
But he criticised the £750m plans for the Silvertown Tunnel, claiming that it does “not fully take into consideration the importance of greener transport” and called plans for a toll “a tax on East and South East Londoners.”
The Green party’s London mayoral candidate Sian Berry seized on the comments, calling for Khan to “come clean about whether he’d build the tunnel at all”.
Ms Berry, who opposes the construction of the new tunnel, said that proposing the project without the tolls would leave it with “zero chance” of getting planning permission.
Central to the TfL plans for the tunnel, which would run parallel to the Emirates Air Line cable car, is a toll for both the new tunnel and the existing Blackwall Tunnel to control traffic levels.
Ms Berry added: “Building the Silvertown Tunnel without tolling would inevitably cause chaos, congestion and worsening illegal pollution across a wide area.
“No mayor who takes air pollution seriously would build the Silvertown tunnel.
“Greens would cancel TfL’s big road building programme and put the money into better public transport, walking and cycling links, like the footbridge from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf.”
Conservative London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith is supporting the new tunnel, according his manifesto.
A public consultation on the Silvertown Tunnel last year received over 4,000 responses. Almost a third of respondents opposed the plans, with air pollution a major concern.
TfL submitted plans to the Secretary of State for Transport, who has to approve a Development Consent Order before a “hearing and examination process”.
If the plans get the green light, construction is expected to start by 2019 with an earliest opening date of 2022.