By Local Democracy Reporter
COUNCILLORS fear Thurrock will be overwhelmed by construction workers if the Lower Thames Crossing goes ahead.
The £6.8billion Highways England project to create two 2.5-mile tunnels under the Thames will connect Kent and Thurrock and provide an alternative route to the Dartford Crossing and Blackwall Tunnel.
Chris Stratford, senior consultant advising Thurrock Council on the crossing, told councillors on Monday nine meetings have been held with Highways England on 58 measures which will mitigate the impact of the scheme on Thurrock.
Mr Stratford said eight of these had been vetoed by Highways England, including smart speed limits that can respond to traffic problems and pollutants, along with housing for workers.
Mr Stratford said: “They have provision on site for 480 workers within their current scheme – 80 are people working in the deep tunnel then 400 normal workers and they are proposing any other workers either travel to the site or use local accommodation.”
John Kent, Labour councillor for Grays Thurrock, said: “I’m interested to hear the numbers of workers that will come into the area to build this at the very same time there will be tens of thousands of people working on Paramount Park across the water.
“They are already talking about disused cruise ships somewhere in the Thames to house workers. I am really concerned that the area won’t be able to cope with that number of workers. It’s not only about the pressure it puts on local housing, it’s the pressure it puts on all sorts of services whether that’s health services, doctors, policing as well as the impact on the local road network, so I do think we need to be really clear how they intend to house that number of people while they are here working.”
Thurrock council commissioned consultants Hatch to assess the impact the scheme would have. Hatch reported there would be more than £300million lost in land and disruption to travel and business.
Sara Muldowney, Labour councillor for Chadwell St Mary, said after the meeting: “We all know the damage the Lower Thames Crossing will reap on our borough should it go ahead.
“The economic mitigation list we saw last night does not seem to address this damage.”