Silvertown Tunnel

Silvertown Road Tunnel

The Director of the CSC at the University of Hertfordshire, Professor Austin Smyth, has been seconded to a panel of examining inspectors to assess, on behalf of the UK Government, the £1 billion Silvertown Tunnel project in London’s Docklands. This is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008.

The Silvertown Road Tunnel is a planned new road tunnel under the River Thames in East London adjacent to the O2 Arena being promoted under a Development Consent Order (DCO) by Transport for London (TfL).

The Examination

This included a series of public hearings at various locations within the London Boroughs directly affected. Alongside exchange of correspondence between the Examining Inspectors, who together make up the Examining Authority, and the scheme’s applicant, as well as written contributions from Interested Parties (IP’s), inquisitorial sessions included consideration of presentations from the promoter in public hearings that also involved inputs from IP’s. These were completed at the end of March 2017 and the Examination formally closed on 11 April 2017.

The Proposal

The Silvertown proposal is for a new twin bore road tunnel to pass under the River Thames between Silvertown and North Greenwich in London’s Docklands, connecting to the A1020 Silvertown Way/Lower Lea Crossing on the north side, with the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach on the south side. The tunnel generally follows the alignment of the Emirates Airline cable car.

The main purpose of the tunnel

The tunnel is to relieve traffic congestion and improve reliability at the existing Blackwall Tunnel by providing an alternative river crossing. In addition this crossing will improve the network resilience where there is an acknowledged lack of crossings and also help to support significant planned economic growth in east and south-east London over the next twenty years. The earliest date it could be operational is 2021. The tunnel may be tolled, along with the Blackwall Tunnel, to manage demand.


Some local campaigners, including 'No to the Silvertown Tunnel', claim the project would generate more traffic and more congestion, particularly in surrounding areas, and lead to more air pollution thus affecting the health of residents workers and visitors.


Following closure of the Examination on 11 April 2017 the Examining Authority is considering the evidence presented to it and will make a recommendation on the Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Secretary of State for Transport within the next 3 months. The Secretary of State will then have 3 months in which to make his decision on the scheme.

Latest news on the Tunnel from Tfl

The latest news may be found on the Transport for London (Tfl) website.