Lower Thames Crossing position statement
2020 supplementary consultation
Highways England held a 10 week statutory public consultation on their proposals between 10 October 2018 and 20th December 2018.
The consultation focused on the approach to design, construction and operation, Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR), and forecasted traffic impacts. A total of 28,493 responses were received, mainly in support for the scheme but concerns were raised regarding the environmental impacts and the proposed junction with the A2.
Due to the vast number of responses, Highways England have been in the process of considering all feedback and making necessary amendments to the design and scope of the scheme. As a result, they undertook a supplementary 8 week public consultation, which ran from 29 January to 25 March 2020 (which was extended to the 2 April 2020 due to the COVID-19).
The consultation focused solely on the design changes since the previous round of consultation. The main changes include:
- extending the tunnel portal further south
- creating a wider ‘green bridge’ at Thong Lanerede
- signing the A2 junction to allow for local connections
- an update on the traffic modelling
- an update on the environmental impacts
- an utilities update – which includes a revised red line development boundary.
To view the full consultation visit the Highways England website.
A Development Consent Order (DCO) application is expected to be submitted by Highways England in Autumn 2020. The Planning Inspectorate will then review the application and decide whether to recommend to the Secretary of State that permission is granted to Highways England to construct the scheme.
If Highways England’s DCO application is successful, construction is intended to start in 2021 and last a total of 6 years. The Lower Thames Crossing is expected to have an opening year of 2027.
Our response to the 2020 consultation remains in support of the project but sets out our concerns on several issues arising from the proposed crossing, including the environmental and traffic impacts on the local area.
In terms of the design consultation changes, we are in support of the extension of the tunnel portal 350m further south, the wider green bridge at Thong Lane, and a direct connection for local residents from Gravesend East onto the A2/M2 eastbound.
However, we have significant concerns and strongly object to the proposed utilities diversions. This is due to the environmental impact the diversions will have on Shorne Woods Country Park and the surrounding areas of ancient woodland and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which contain species of international importance.
Our response also reinstates the urgent need for a phased programme of wider network improvements to be delivered alongside the new Lower Thames Crossing to ensure its success. This includes:
- improving the links between the M2/A2 and M20/A20 via the A229 and A249, and along the M2/A2 corridor
- making the A2 from Lydden to Dover a dual carriageway
- and improvements to M2 Junction 7 (Brenley Corner).
Whilst we have been happy that the concerns raised throughout our previous consultation responses have been taken on board, we fully appreciate the distress that this proposal continues to cause to the local community and have asked that further mitigation measures are incorporated within the design and properties and businesses affected are equitably compensated.