The government has given the planning green light to the new £1bn Silvertown Tunnel under the River Thames.
The tunnel, which will connect Silvertown and Greenwich in east London, was granted a development consent order (DCO) by the transport secretary Chris Grayling today.
Mr Grayling’s decision paves the way for construction to start next year, with the tunnel scheduled to open to traffic in 2023.
The DCO, which had initially been expected to be granted in September 2017, was awarded with a number of conditions.
These conditions include having more than 20 buses per hour travelling through the tunnel and obtaining planning permissions to transport construction materials down the river.
Transport for London must also obtain hazard substance licence from Greenwich council, due to the tunnel running close to a poetentially hazardous chemical storge plant on the Greenwich Peninsula. Mr Grayling said obtaining these consents could delay the scheme.
TfL said it would now work with local boroughs, landowners and stakeholders to understand the implications of these conditions so development work could begin.
The decision on the Silvertown Tunnel was initially expected to be made in October last year but concerns over air quality saw the government push it back.
The project will be privately financed through a design, build, finance and maintain contract, with the successful contractor receiving payments from TfL once the tunnel opens.
Hochtief PPP Solutions and Ferrovial-owned Cintra Global are the two firms in the race for the £1bn project, with Skanska pulling out of contention earlier this year.
Transport for London said it would be announcing the preferred bidder this winter, ahead of officially awarding the contract in early 2019. Construction is expected to start late next year.
Silvertown Tunnel Silvertown portal overview
The contractors will be required to deliver measures that will reduce the impact of construction, including cutting road use by construction vehicles, developing a community engagement plan, and creating 150 local apprenticeships and job starts.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Since I became mayor I’ve been determined to ensure the Silvertown Tunnel doesn’t have a detrimental impact on our environment.
“That’s why the new plans have such a focus on cleaner transport, with only buses with the highest emission standard using the tunnel, and substantial investment in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.”
Silvertown Tunnel alignment map