NATIONAL Highways has come under fire for shortlisting bidders for a £2.3billion contract to the Lower Thames Crossing before a public consultation on the project.
A consultation of the Lower Thames Crossing is due to be held from May 12 to June 20 ahead of an application for a Development Consent Order for the project.
Nevertheless, National Highways says it has shortlisted three bidders for the work.
The project will create two 2.5mile tunnels under the Thames to connect Kent and Thurrock and provide an alternative route for Dartford Crossing and Blackwall Tunnel.
Campaigners who are fighting the road scheme say the move is presumptuous and designed to deter people from taking part in the consultation.
A spokeswoman for the Lower Thames Crossing Action Group, said: “We consider it to be very presumptuous and arrogant of National Highways to be behaving in this way. We still have another round of consultation where everyone can have their say. Plus they haven’t even been able to submit an acceptable Development Consent Order, the equivalent of planning permission for a huge scale project like Lower Thames Crossing, let alone been granted permission. Their last attempt had to be withdrawn or else the Planning Inspectorate was due to refuse it.
“After attending their Lower Thames Crossing Road to Net Zero industry summit and hearing how cleaner and greener construction options can cost over three times as much current construction, we also wait to hear how much they now estimate the cost of the proposed crossing to be.”
Mark Bottomley, Development Director, Lower Thames Crossing, said: “The Lower Thames Crossing will be a vital piece of the UKs transport infrastructure, that will not only ease congestion for tens of millions of people who use Dartford every year, but provide a reliable new connection that will boost the economy by connecting people to jobs, and businesses to partners and customers.
“It’s normal for major infrastructure projects to start negotiations with bidders at this stage so that if given the green light we can start work quickly.”
The shortliste companies are BFV Joint Venture, Bouygues Murphy Joint Venture and Dragados-Hochtief Joint Venture.
To take part in the consultation, visit https://ltcconsultation2022.nationalhighways.co.uk/