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A Bridge Too Far?

PUBLISHED: 14:55 03 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:26 23 August 2010

KCC launch of 21st Century Kent with Paul Carter and Sir Terry Farrell 28/1/10 -  By James Clarke (www.jamesclarke.biz james.clarke@blueyonder.co.uk 0794 1676821)

KCC launch of 21st Century Kent with Paul Carter and Sir Terry Farrell 28/1/10 - By James Clarke (www.jamesclarke.biz james.clarke@blueyonder.co.uk 0794 1676821)

ANGRY villagers and councillors have blasted proposals for a third Thames crossing which they say will threaten the countryside on a horrendous scale. Plans for a new river crossing that would be built near the villages of Higham and Shorne has been un

ANGRY villagers and councillors have blasted proposals for a third Thames crossing which they say will threaten the countryside on a 'horrendous' scale.

Plans for a new river crossing that would be built near the villages of Higham and Shorne has been unveiled by Kent County Council leader Paul Carter, and one of the world's leading architects Sir Terry Farrell.

Horrified residents in the pretty villages of Shorne and Higham, once the home of world famous author Charles Dickens, are opposed to the scheme, which could see hundreds of cars and lorries on new roads linking north Kent to Tilbury in Essex.

Julie Woolley, 50, of Orlick Road, Higham, said: "I can understand that they need another river crossing but no one wants it in their back yard.

"It will be a real pity if they do decide to build it here as there is such lovely countryside in this area."

Paul Martin, who runs the Green grocers in Higham said: "I can't see how it will work in this area. The farmers will never agree to this and so I can't see it getting planning permission."

Also outraged was Robin Theolbald, of Warren View, Shorne, a Gravesham Borough councillor and also chairman of the Dickens Country Protection Society, which campaigns to protect the area of north Kent.

He said: "Though I don't think too much can be said until a detailed plan of the route has been presented we will oppose it.

"It is going to have to cut through greenbelt land and good agricultural land, and a new bridge here will have a terrible impact on the landscape.

Presenting the plans at the meeting, Mr Carter said the Third Thames Crossing was key to the transformation of north Kent, estimating a £1 billion construction cost would be met by private investors.

Mr Theobald added: "The society will be actively opposing it. It will be in direct competition with the crossing at Dartford and I'm not sure if they will ever find an investor who will think this is economically viable."

The leader of Gravesham Borough Council Mike Snelling said the council would "utterly oppose" the plans being put forward.

He said: "While we agree on the need for more capacity to cross the Thames the location apparently favoured but this draft study for Kent and Essex County council's threatens villages and countryside on a horrendous scale.

"We utterly oppose desecrating those precious parts of our borough which we have fought so hard to retain."

A feasibility study is now to be carried out with Kent County Council and Essex Council to build a bridge or tunnel, with results expected within weeks.

The two counties are already linked by two road tunnels and the Queen Elizabeth II bridge between Dartford and Thurrock, which carry the M25 across the River Thames.

Other options for a Third Crossing include a further crossing at the site of the existing Dartford Crossing or a crossing from Swanscombe.

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