Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Highways Agency release new ‘fly-through’ of Lower Thames Crossing route as residents invited to comment

NATIONAL Highways has today (Monday, 9 January) released a new video fly-through that illustrates the route of the Lower Thames Crossing, as the Planning Inspectorate opened the period for members of the public, stakeholders and landowners to register to take part in the next stage of the planning process.

The government agency submitted its much-delayed application for a development consetn order to the Inspectorate in the closing stages of 2022. Now the appliation, which is to all intents an purposes the same as a planning application to a local authority, will be considered. The project will examined by a panel of government-appointed experts. Questions have been asked about the veracity of the government effectively marking its own agency’s work but National Highways says the process will be independently judged. 

The new fly-through shows a bird’s eye view of the proposed route, which is planned to connect the A2 in Kent to the M25 in south Essex. The fly-through uses a 3D computer model of the new road blended with real video footage to show how the route has been designed to sit in the landscape. Eighty per cent of the road will be below ground level through the use of cuttings, embankments and the tunnel. The video also shows the scale of proposed planting and public open space, including two new public parks, seven bridges and over 1 million extra trees.

Changes made to the design in Thurrock and presented in the project’s last consultation are also included in the fly-through, such as changes on the north bank of the Thames to make space for the Thames Freeport, and changes to the connection between the Orsett Cock roundabout to the A1089 to reduce traffic impacts on some local roads.

Members of the public to register to become an Interested Party by making a Relevant Representation, which is the first time that comments and views on the application can be sent directly to the Planning Inspectorate. Registration is possible through the Planning Inspectorate website until 24 February.

The crossing project’s executive director, Matt Palmer, says: “Our plans have been shaped by a comprehensive programme of consultation and will now be examined in detail by the government’s independent planning authority. I’d like to thank members of the public and stakeholders for taking the time to give their views, both in the past and during this planning process.”

National Highways says it has designed the Lower Thames Crossing to be the greenest road ever built in the UK, adding that a tunnel was chosen rather than a bridge to avoid protected wetlands and marshes. It adds seven ‘green bridges’ will provide safer crossing points for people and wildlife, and viaducts are planned to protect a nearby flood plain.

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