Fury over plans for tolls on A12 Blackwall Tunnel

Plans for toll charges that could hit tens-of-thousands of drivers using Blackwall Tunnel have been slammed this week by political leaders.

The �2 charge would be used to help pay for a proposed Silvertown Thames river tunnel crossing and a new ferry at Beckton to replace the ageing Woolwich Ferry.

But Transport for London’s proposal has been condemned by a Euro MP, a London Assembly member and a motoring organisation—while east London’s business community which has been lobbying for the Silvertown crossing was taken by surprise by the toll plan to pay for it.

London MEP Gerard Batten called it “yet another tax on beleaguered motorists and businesses.”

He said: “This is a yearly tax of �800 for those who have to use the tunnel to get to work.

“We’re told this is to help pay for the new Silvertown crossing—but once imposed we all know it will never be lifted.”

The tunnel has been free since it first opened 114 years ago.

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The London Assembly’s Darren Johnson warned: “The Mayor will please very few people with his announcement that tolls would have to be imposed.

“Many of those in favour of the Silvertown crossing will hate the idea of having to pay tolls.”

Motoring organisations warned of a public backlash against toll charges.

The AA’s Head of Roads Policy, Paul Watters, told the Advertiser: “Slapping tolls on existing roads would be difficult for those taking jobs on the basis of commuting through Blackwall Tunnel. Having to fork out another �80 a month is quite a whack.”

There is currently no funding in TfL’s budget for major projects, according to its consultation document yesterday (Tues). The most appropriate way to fund new river crossings would be tolls, it said.

But the document adds that “the Blackwall Tunnel would also need to be tolled” because it would be close to the new Silvertown tunnel with the same approach road from the south.

However, MP Jim Fitzpatrick, whose Poplar & Limehouse constituency is sliced by the notoriously-congested A12 Blackwall northern approach, believes drivers should pay up.

He said: “People might think motorists are a soft target for extra levies.

“But if we want more Thames crossings they have to be paid for—it should be those using them that pay for them.”

TfL’s proposal took the business community by surprise.

The Docklands & East London Chamber of Commerce chair Janette Whithey, who commutes daily through the tunnel to Canary Wharf, said: “We have lobbied for a new river crossing.

“But a toll on Blackwall Tunnel is something new—it wasn’t in last consultation.

“Personally, I would hate it.”

Tolls are only one option, TfL insists. The idea “has not been decided”—its consultations on a Silvertown tunnel linking the Royal Docks to the Greenwich Peninsula and a new ferry at Beckton connecting the North Circular and South Circular roads close on February 1 and are online at www.tfl.gov.uk/rivercrossing

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