Lower Thames Crossing position statement
Our response to Highways England’s current consultation on route options for a Lower Thames Crossing was debated at the Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee and the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee and agreed at Cabinet on 21 March 2016 before the consultation closed on 24 March 2016.
We responded in support of Highways England’s selection of a bored tunnel at Location C (the east of Gravesend) as the only viable crossing location as this will provide a new strategic link from the Port of Dover to the Midlands and the North, greater network resilience and significant economic benefits compared to adding additional capacity at the existing Dartford Crossing.
However, we made clear our support of the Western Southern Link to the A2 (not Highways England’s preferred route) to minimise environmental damage and avoid Shorne village and woods. Our response urged the Government to provide generous compensation to property owners affected by the new road and make a swift decision on a preferred route to reduce the uncertainty around the two route options. We fully appreciate the distress that this proposal has caused to the local community and have asked that further mitigation measures, such as increased length of the route in tunnel, are included in Highways England’s detailed design which will follow after the Government makes a decision on a preferred route and will be subjected to a further consultation. The views of local Members helped to formulate the response through the debates at the two Cabinet Committees on 3 and 11 March 2016. We also liaised with Gravesham Borough Council to investigate the potential air quality impacts of the proposed new road around Gravesend.
A key concern has also been the elimination of the C Variant (upgrades to the A229 Bluebell Hill) and so we reiterated the necessity for Highways England to consider the connections between the M20 and M2 (including the A249), and the wider network improvements needed along the A2 and M2 to support bifurcation (splitting) of Port traffic between the M2 and A2 and M20 and A20 corridors.