NATIONAL Highways is proposing to use swathes of farmland to soak up pollution fom the proposed Lower Thames Crossing.
The £8.2b new road, which will link Kent with Essex, is said to be designed to be the “greenest road ever built in the UK” but in latest consultation proposals, National Highways proposes taking areas of farmland to compensate for nitrogen emissions from traffic.
National Highways says the additional land is to be acquired to mitigate nitrogen from exhaust fumes which falls from the atmosphere onto surrounding land.
To create a greater area of protection, woodland would be allowed to grow naturally in these former farmland areas and additional trees and shrubs would be planted
Two parcels of land totalling approximately 111 acres have been identified in Thurrock for compensatory planting. Part is publicly owned, while an area to the west of the earmarked land is private farmland.
Both are located to the south of the A13 in Southfields and are close to designated sites and existing woodland that are impacted by nitrogen deposition.
This is in addition to land already earmarked in Thurrock and Kent which National Highways says will become wildlife habitats.
Mark Bottomley, development director for Lower Thames Crossing, said: “As part of our efforts to address the impacts of the Lower Thames Crossing on the environment we’re are proposing to provide around 617 acres for new wildlife habitats across four sites near to the route of the proposed new road.
“As well as providing new wildlife habitats and areas of tree planting, if possible, these areas would be made accessible to the public providing new open space. We are consulting on this now, as there have been changes in the way the vehicle emissions are assessed for their impact on sensitive designated habitats, and we have worked very closely with Natural England and other environment agencies to update our plans and improve our environmental mitigation.”
Campaigners from the Thames Crossing Action Group say they are still examining lengthy documents published for a new public consultation and will make a statement once they have done so.
To take part in the consultation, which ends on May 20, visit https://ltcconsultation2022.nationalhighways.co.uk