Thurrock Council reaffirm opposition to new river crossing

THURROCK Council is to reaffirm its opposition to a major new river crossing in a letter sent to Highway England.

The government’s highways agency launched a new consultation on the design of the Lower Thames Crossing at the end of June after carrying out refinements to the design, including minor changes to the road layout and updated paths for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

In a draft letter, Thurrock Council will say it continues to oppose the project which will cut through the middle of the borough, starting on the M25 near South Ockendon and running through Tilbury before crossing the River Thames to Chalk in Gravesham in Kent.

The letter will highlight a range of concerns the council has with the latest design, including noise barriers that will “give rise to significant impacts for residents living in close proximity”, and the updated path which “do not form part of a comprehensive strategy” for travel.

The council has also raised concerns over the way the consultation has been carried out.

A report published ahead of a General Services Committee next week, explained there are “significant issues” with the consultation due to it being held during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report said: “The Council is concerned that not only will directly affected residents and the wider community be at a disadvantage in meaningfully engaging with the ‘virtual’ Design Refinement Consultation, for example, due to lack of ability to hold ‘in person’ exhibitions, view notices in public locations, inspect hard copies of vital, complex documents and plans, but also that this consultation is being unnecessarily rushed by Highways England and there is significant risk of consultation fatigue.

“The public will once again need to gain a rapid understanding of what is a highly complex scheme but on this occasion, it is during a period when there are higher priority matters and concerns affecting people’s health, wellbeing and in many cases, their ability to work resulting in significant personal and financial challenges.”

Thurrock Council has been pushing back against the scheme for a number of years and even considered legal action against Highways England at the end of 2018.

At the time, council leader Rob Gledhill branded the project “abysmal” and warned it would “tear through the heart of Thurrock and create a visible scar on our landscape”.

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