Coronavirus: Lower Thames Crossing consultation period extended
PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 March 2020
The public consultation period on plans for the new Lower Thames Crossing has been extended by a week because of the chaos being caused by Covid-19.
With social distancing and self-isolation now part of our everyday language, Highways England has announced more time was needed to give everyone the chance to have their say.
The ambitious plan is to create Britain’s longest road tunnel connecting Gravesham with Thurrock in Essex.
The consultation has been under way since January 29 and had been due to finish next week. It has now been extended until 11.59pm on Thursday, April 2.
Highways England said this decision follows the cancellation of four public information events, reflecting the government’s guidance on managing the coronavirus.
So far, 18 of 22 planned events have already taken place, attracting nearly 4,000 people.
Understanding the present concerns about public gatherings, Highways England is opening a public consultation telephone service for two days. This is specifically to give people who had planned attend the remaining events the opportunity to speak to the project team about the changes.
It said the overall time extension will give people the chance to complete their consultation response and also enable organisations taking part in the consultation to complete their governance processes, which may have been disrupted recently.
Project director for the scheme, Alan Seywright, said: “We’ve been encouraged by the strong public turnout at our events so far, and these additional steps we are taking are the right thing to do in response to the disruption from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Extending the supplementary consultation period to Thursday, April 2 will give everyone extra time to understand the changes and give us feedback, either online or by returning a paper response form. It’s an uncertain time and we’re doing whatever it takes to get in touch with our communities, safely and responsibly.
“The Lower Thames Crossing is part of the biggest investment in the country’s roads for a generation. It will boost local, regional and national economies, with new connections, better journeys and fewer delays. We’ll keep listening and talking to our stakeholders in the most practicable ways to make sure they can have their say and seek answers for their questions.”
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The latest changes were made after detailed analysis of the 29,000 responses received during the last consultation held in 2018, and new technical information following surveys and ground investigations.
Unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic, Highways England is also expecting to hold a further round of consultation on some design refinements ahead of submitting the Development Consent Order application later this year. It said this will provide communities and stakeholders with a further opportunity to share their views.
The Lower Thames Crossing will provide a new 14.3-mile 70mph road connecting the two counties with the world’s third-widest bored tunnel. It will almost double road capacity across the River Thames east of London, connecting communities, reducing delays and providing more reliable journeys.
Highways England is the government-owned company responsible for modernising, maintaining and operating England’s motorways and major A roads.
Because of the continuing massive jams at the existing Dartford crossing, even with two tunnels providing four lanes, and a bridge coming the other way, also with four lanes, a solution was needed.
Journey times at the toll crossing used to be severely hampered by physical booths to collect the money, but even removing those for an automatic online payment system, long tailbacks are common.
Highways England said the new Crossing will provide up to 90 per cent additional road capacity across the River Thames east of London and transform journeys through the South East region and beyond.
To take part in the consultation, fill in the online survey at www.lowerthamescrossing.co.uk/consultation-2020.
Post for free comments to FREEPOST LTC CONSULTATION.
Hand in a response at a public information event.
Phone 020 3787 4300 between March 23 and 25 at times between 2pm and 8pm.