Highways England have today (23rd June 2021) announced that they will be holding a Lower Thames Crossing ‘Community Impacts Consultation’.
The new 8 week consultation will begin 00:01 on Wednesday 14 July and will run to 23:59 on Wednesday 8 September 2021.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic they will evidently be providing a range of ways to access information including a dedicated consultation website, webinars and a telephone service. If government guidance permits they say they will also host a series of in-person events at locations along the proposed route. A range of documents will be also published alongside new visualisations and flythrough videos giving an overview of the route before, during and after it is built.
The consultation materials, when released at 00:01 on the 14th July, will be available at http://www.highwaysengland.co.uk/ltcconsultation
Topics of consultation include:
- Plans to build and operate the Lower Thames Crossing and how Highways England will mitigate its impact
- Changes to the project since the design refinement consultation in 2020. According to HE this includes “a reduction in the area needed to build and operate the scheme, a smaller impact on local properties and woodland, and new public spaces on both sides of the River Thames.”
- Changes to traffic, air quality, noise and vibration, as well as the impact of the new crossing on the environment and landscape.
- Details of two new public parks; Chalk Park to the East of Gravesend, and Tilbury Fields in Thurrock. These will be connected by seven green bridges and over 46km of new or improved public footpaths.
- How responses received at each previous consultations have informed the development of the project
We’ll all have to wait until the consultation materials are released at 00:01 to find out for sure what it all means, but it is worth remembering that we can also provide other feedback that we feel relevant too!
We understand and appreciate that people are suffering with consultation fatigue and that we’re all still dealing with a lot in regard to COVID-19, but we really do hope that as many people as poss will take part in the Community Impacts Consultation and have your say. We will bring you more info as it becomes available.
What happens after consultation
Highways England attempted to submit the LTC Development Consent Order (DCO) in October 2020, but withdrew it at the eleventh hour in November, as the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) were due to refuse it due to inadequate information.
Initially HE stated they would resubmit the DCO in early 2021, and even gave itself a 90-120 day self set target to resubmit, which it failed to meet.
HE currently say they plan to submit a new DCO application later this year to restart the 18 month (approx) consent process. If given the green light, construction is expected to start in 2024 and take around six years, leading to a revised road opening date between 2029 and 2030.
TCAG discuss LTC Community Impacts Consultation Announcement with Ben Fryer on BBC Essex Radio