Rotherhithe Tunnel: Polluting fumes fall by 40 per cent in tunnel – but 800 cars are breaking the restrictions daily

Josh Salisbury (12 June, 2019) Transport

Harmful NO2 fumes in the tunnel have fallen by 40 per cent according to TfL officials after restrictions have been placed on certain cars using the tunnel

22554There has been a 40 per cent fall in toxic fumes at the tunnel but cars are reportedly flouting size and weight restrictions (Image: TfL)

The level of toxic fumes in the Rotherhithe Tunnel have dropped dramatically, according to TfL, following efforts by local campaigners.

In a report presented to residents and shared with the News, TfL officials say that a relatively small drop in the number of vehicles using the tunnel has led to a dramatic improvement in air quality.

“The relatively small reduction in traffic levels has led to a substantial improvement in the air quality within the tunnel,” states the report.

“The average NO2 level has dropped from 558 ?g/m3 to 332 ?g/m3 or 40%.”

Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP, Neil Coyle, who secured the release of the figures told the News: “Thanks to local activists and The News highlighting the problem, the toxic air in the Rotherhithe Tunnel has been tackled and improved.

“This has meant having to reduce access to the tunnel for some vehicles, but previously TfL were not even properly monitoring the area or dangerous levels of pollution.

“I will keep reviewing the figures and hope local people have noticed the improvement in the last year.”

The report also shows that in March, 1,000 prohibited vehicles were using the tunnel, despite restrictions on the type of cars that can use the river crossing being introduced in September 2018.

TfL introduced cameras in February, leaving drivers facing £130 fines if they break the restrictions.

In April, the latest month for which figures are available, 800 cars breaking the limits were using the tunnel daily.

As the News has reported, concerns were first raised by campaigners last year about toxic gases blowing into their homes after local residents noticed the tunnel was spewing out even more fumes than normal.

An apartment block on Rotherhithe Street is just eight metres from the tunnel’s shaft number two, used to ventilate the route.

The tunnel, built in 1908, was not designed for modern levels of traffic and transport officials have warned that drivers breaking the restrictions are risking the safety of themselves and others.

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