Controversial £10billion Lower Thames Crossing's delays 'could see it shelved'

·2-min read
Controversial £10billion Lower Thames Crossing's delays 'could see it shelved' <i>(Image: National Highways)</i>
Controversial £10billion Lower Thames Crossing's delays 'could see it shelved' (Image: National Highways)

DELAYS in starting the controversial £10billion Lower Thames Crossing could see the scheme shelved, campaigners hope.

The Government recently announced the project to link Kent with Essex via two new 2.5 mile tunnels under the Thames would be delayed by two years even if it gets the go ahead under a Development Consent Order currently being considered by the Government.

The Lower Thames Action Group believes new environmental legislation coming in 2025 will mean the scheme will no longer be viable.

Speaking at a meeting of Thurrock Council’s Lower Thames Crossing Action Group on Monday, campaigner Laura Blake said: “At the moment there is a lot of changes going. A lot has changed since the preferred route was announced back in 2017. With those changes we feel the actual route needs to be reassessed at the very least. The national policy statement for national networks, that’s actually the policy they will use to judge the project when it comes to Development Consent Order.

“At the moment it doesn’t contain requirements for things like Net Zero which is legislation. Unfortunately the order has gone in so it will be judged on the current policy rather than the new one but we don’t feel that’s acceptable because if they knowingly begin this project which is based on something that is clearly out of date and not compliant with legislation that’s not good practise.”

Ms Blake added: “Biodiversity net gains - there are new requirements coming in for that starting in November 2025 where there would have to be a minimum of ten per cent biodiversity net gain. The Lower Thames Crossing currently sits around 7 per cent.”

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Speaking at the meeting, John Kent, leader of the Labour Group said: “For me it comes down to two things. One is that this crossing fails on every test that has been set. It doesn’t relieve the congestion at the existing crossing and it does absolutely nothing to add to the resilience of the local or regional highway network.

“The second thing is if it’s left to highways agencies, they will build roads because that’s what they do but it’s still the treasury that has to sign the check at the end of the day. You look at that cost benefit ratio and it clearly fails and I hope that two-year delay is the first chink where the treasury is starting to say "we’re not sure if this adds up".”