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Drilling underway in Gravesham countryside for Lower Thames Crossing work

PUBLISHED: 16:48 10 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:37 11 October 2017

Option C Lower Thames Crossing south side

Option C Lower Thames Crossing south side

Archant

Highways England engineers visited the site last week

Ground has broken in the Gravesham countryside as early work on the Lower Thames Crossing begins.

Six months on from the government’s announcement that a river crossing would go east of Gravesend, Highways England engineers have begun provisional works for the £6billion bored tunnel, which will emerge in Thurrock.

But campaigners feel they have been “left in the dark” by the government agency, which started provisional drilling to test the land around the crossing, which has been billed as a solution to the Dartford’s traffic problems.

The crossing will connect with the M2 via a new road snaking through the countryside, past villages such as Shorne.

Gravesham Rural county councillor Bryan Sweetland, has been a constant campaigner against the crossing, and first heard of the drilling via the press.

He said: “I met with Highways England last month to discuss plans, but whenever we meet we’re left in the dark.

“They don’t seem to listen to our concerns, and right now they’re not tell us anything either.”

Alex Hills, from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, added: “The arrival of the drilling really brings home the fact the government is pursuing with this madness.

“There’s still a lot of work going on behind the scenes, but what people don’t realise is the environmental and traffic effects of this crossing will be felt even in places like Higham and Maidstone, where roads are already at capacity.

A Highways England spokesperson, said it is “communicating regularly,” with concerned residents, adding: “We are drilling some test bore holes on the land of the preferred location of the Lower Thames Crossing. This is simply to test and analyse the land where the new crossing is proposed to be located.

“We understand that a major new infrastructure project on this scale can cause worry and concern, particularly about the effect it will have on homes, communities and the environment.

“We can assure people that work has not started yet.

“Detailed design on the preferred option is currently taking place and people will have another chance to have their say on the plans before construction work starts.”

The crossing is expected to be complete by 2025 at the earliest.

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