By BBC Local Democracy Reporter
THE Lower Thames Crossing will have a “major impact on resident’s health”, councillors fear.
The multi-billion pound crossing will link Essex, Thurrock and Kent, but major concerns were raised as plans were discussed on Monday.
During the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting, Labour councillor Sara Muldowney raised concerns about the impact on resident’s health.
She said: “For me the focus has always been about health and we have always asked about the health impact assessment to be released – which we have now.
“Without substantial mitigation, such as moving the route, this is going to have a major impact on our resident’s health and wellbeing in an area where we have already got distinct health inequalities.
“What we are looking at is – residents’ lives being shortened by a six-lane motorway.
“If you cannot mitigate the health impact, I’m wondering what you can offer us – I am willing to listen with an open mind.”
Mrs Muldowney asked if there is a possibility that Highways England could establish a fund for those who are most impacted.
She said: “A fund to be moved away permanently or temporarily from the construction phase, so they don’t feel the impact on their health that this motorway is undoubtedly going to bring.”
Matt Palmer, Executive Director for the Lower Thames Crossing said hot spots had been identified and that bosses would try to limit the impact.
He said: “I am here to listen, and we will try to take positive actions. From a health perspective I simplify it down to air quality – and the story is a good one. Overall, a positive story.”
The plan for Lower Thames Crossing is to help improve journeys by almost doubling road capacity across the Thames east of London, with 14.3 miles of new road featuring two 2.6-mile-long tunnels.
The new development will supposedly help the economy in Kent and Essex with better links to the region’s ports, distribution hubs and manufacturing centres.