Gravesham Borough Council has hit out at Highways England’s plans for the £6bn Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) in Kent, saying it was “strongly opposed” to a number of the proposals put forward in the public consultation for the scheme.
Although the council agreed that a crossing was needed, in its official response to the public consultation on the scheme, it raised a number of changes which it said were needed to improve the scheme and reduce its impact on the surrounding community. It also maintained that the crossing should be built at Dartford, rather than its currently proposed location, 10km to the east, at Gravesend.
“The western option south of the river was selected in 2017 because it had less environmental impact than the eastern,” the response said. “The current proposals are however very damaging indeed on the environment and affect more local residents (Riverview Park and Thong).
“A re-think is needed of these proposals.”
Gravesham Borough Council covers the southern part of the route from the connection with the A2 and north to the Thames. It did not comment on the northern part of the route from Tilbury to the connection with the M25 at North Ockendon.
Lower Thames Crossing map
Source: Highways England
Given the proposed route be taken forward, the council said it welcomed the extension of the tunnel underneath the Thames and the deletion of the A226 junction, but said it “strongly” opposed the current proposed A2 junction with 70mph slip roads.
This, it claimed, damaged the landscape, historic features, and nature conservation, particularly it said, in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It also said noise, air quality and construction in the short term, remained major concerns.
The council said further design work, environmental assessment and consultation were necessary on the Thong Lane Bridge north and the tunnel portal to mitigate the impacts of the scheme on local residents. It proposed an extension of the tunnel southwards, widening of the bridge and mitigation for local residents for noise and air quality.
It added that the information about the construction compounds was unclear and raised concerns about the implications for local residents and the environment over the “long timescale” for construction.
A Highways England spokesperson said: “The Lower Thames Crossing consultation is arguably the most significant that has ever been held into a UK road scheme and we have had an excellent response from stakeholders and communities across Kent, Essex and London.
“We have had significant levels of positive and constructive engagement with Gravesham Council. We will be considering its feedback and recommendations, which will play an important role in the evolution of the design. We look forward to working closely with Gravesham Council as we continue to develop our proposals to maximise the benefits and reduce the impact locally, regionally and nationally.”
The public consultation on the proposed scheme opened in October last year and closed on 20 December. Speaking at New Civil Engineer’s Tunnelling Festival last month, Highways England LTC project director Tim Jones said the number and size of the civil engineering challenges to be overcome will be substantial.