Lower Thames Crossing: Council leader urges Highways England to mitigate environmental impact

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 March 2020

A CGI of the proposed 14.5 mile tunnel. Picture: Highways England

A CGI of the proposed 14.5 mile tunnel. Picture: Highways England


Kent County Council’s leader has weighed in on the row over the £6.8bn Lower Thames Crossing.

Cllr Roger Gough (Con) has described Highways England's project, which could see 14.5 miles of new roads built between Kent and Essex, as extremely important for the county.

However, on Monday, March 2, he stressed that Highways England needs to find ways to reduce congestion pressures on Kent's roads and minimise environmental impacts from construction works.

Speaking from his Maidstone County Hall office, he said: "We continue to press very hard for the implications on the local road network, as well as looking to mitigate, in every way we possibly can, environmental impacts."

Cllr Gough added: "We are concerned it's an extremely important piece of work, but one we need to ensure comes out in the right way for Kent's 
residents, particularly those in the part of county that's affected by it."

His comments come less than a week after Heathrow Airport's third runway expansion plans were ruled illegal by the Court of Appeal due to the lack of consideration over climate change concerns.

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The UK's busiest airport serves more than 75 million passengers a year and if the plan had been given the green light, construction of a new runway was expected to be completed by the end of this decade.

The court's ruling means several other major infrastructure schemes could be in jeopardy, such as the expansion of Gatwick Airport, which KCC strongly opposes, as well as the Lower Thames Crossing.

Highways England say the Lower Thames Crossing scheme, spanning from Gravesend to Tilbury, will be beneficial to Kent by doubling road capacity across the Thames, east of London.

It adds that the crossing will "significantly" reduce congestion at Dartford Crossing by take up to 22per cent of traffic away from there.

Opponents, including former KCC highways boss Cllr Bryan Sweetland (Con), have described the scheme as "ill-thought out", "stupidly expensive" and "environmentally damaging".

Cllr Martin Whybrow (Green) added: "When we are trying to address the climate crisis, it's a woeful misuse of capital in this day and age."

If approved, the 23km three-lane dual carriageway would connect the M2 near Rochester and the M25 in Essex, between north and south Ockendon and include a 2.4-mile (3.8km) tunnel between Kent and Essex.

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