Transport for London (TfL) has unlocked the award of the £1bn Silvertown Tunnel contract, despite the ongoing legal action over its procurement.
The move was quietly made earlier this month and not announced to the press. A TfL spokesman said it now hopes to sign a contract with Ferrovial-led Riverlinx consortium while the legal battle is still in the courts.
The contract award had been suspended after rival bidder Silver Thames Connect (STC) - comprising Hochtieff, Dragados and Iridium Concesiones de Infraestructuras - submitted a Part 7 Claim to the Technology and Construction Court.
It contested the process, raising a detailed and specific argument against the scoring process and alleged anomalies in the marking.
However STC consented to TfL’s application to court on 2 October to lift the automatic suspension on the award of the Silvertown Tunnel contract.
A TfL spokesperson said: 'We are pleased that Silver Thames Connect (STC) has consented to TfL’s application to court to lift the automatic suspension on award of the Silvertown Tunnel contract.
'We will now progress the arrangements for award of the contract to the Riverlinx consortium as soon as possible. Once open, a new twin-bore tunnel, located within the extended Ultra Low Emission zone, will remove barriers for people in east London needing to cross the river for work or leisure, enable the introduction of new bus services and improve the reliability and resilience of the local road network.'
TfL said it continues to discuss the outstanding issues relating to the challenges made by STC around the outcome of our procurement process and will continue to robustly defend our approach.
Ferrovial declined to comment.
Victoria Rance, co-ordinator of the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel Coalition, said: 'The project has not been re-evaluated in light of new findings on air quality, or of the climate emergency.
'Council leaders across SE London have asked the mayor to halt and review the project - as have local residents, climate, traffic and environmental health experts, and active travel NGOs. The mayor needs to listen to all these very well-informed people, understand that he has made a wrong call based on bad information, and think again.
'It shows astonishing hypocrisy for the mayor to host an international air quality conference that focuses on the immense health costs of dirty air, and on the other push forward with this £1bn project that, even in the best possible scenario, will make air quality worse for many, and will lock in high levels of heavy motor traffic, toxic air and high carbon emissions for decades to come.'