PEOPLE will have an extra week to have their say on ambitious plans to create Britain’s longest road tunnel connecting Kent, Essex and Thurrock after Highways England took the decision to extend its public consultation into the proposed upgrade.
A consultation has been underway since 29 January and had been due to finish next week. It has now been extended until 11.59pm on Thursday 2 April.
The decision follows the cancellation of four public information events, reflecting the Government’s guidance on managing the Coronavirus. 18 of 22 planned events have already taken place, attracting nearly 4,000 people.
In response, Highways England is:
Extending the consultation by one week to 11.59pm on Thursday 2 April.
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, and are on:
Monday 23 March (2pm – 8pm)
Wednesday 25 March (2pm – 8pm).
The extension will give people additional time to complete their consultation response and will also enable organisations taking part in the consultation to complete their governance processes, which may have been disrupted recently.
Alan Seywright, Highways England’s Project Director for the Lower Thames Crossing 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 2 April 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.”
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. This would 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 Kent, Thurrock and Essex, 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.