Lower Thames Crossing timeline

The Lower Thames Crossing timeline spans a considerable time frame so we thought it might be helpful if we break down the whole process for everyone, so that you can follow along with what has gone on, is happening, and we can expect moving forward.

Click on the Title or + symbol to expand to read more info on each section of the Lower Thames Crossing timeline.

Due to increasing demand at the Dartford Crossing, the DfT looked at options for an additional crossing at five potential locations (A, B, C, D and E).

The two furthest east (D and E) are ruled out as they are too far from the existing crossing. Rail is also ruled out.

You can view that study here.
The government recognises the need for a new crossing by naming it a top 40 priority project in its National Infrastructure Plan. You can view that report here.
The DfT commissioned a study to assess the 3 remaining location options.
The DfT carries out a public consultation to ask for views on the location of the proposed crossing.

Info on this can be found here.
The response to the consultation confirms the need for a new crossing between Kent, Thurrock and Essex. Option B is ruled out; the remaining two locations (A and C) are investigated further.

Click here for Government’s response.
Department for Transport (DfT) asks Highways England to assess the economic, traffic, environmental and community impacts for locations A and C.

The 2016 consultation was held from the 26th January through to 24th March 2016.

Despite the fact the DfT asked HE to consultation on Locations A and C, the public consultation asks for feedback on proposals and location C, including 3 routes north of the river in Thurrock and Essex, and two south of the river in Kent.

In TCAG's opinion this consultation was completely biased towards Location C.

It was several weeks into the consultation that we questioned the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Department for Transport, Andrew Jones MP, and he told us “I can confirm that Option A is included within the consultation and remains an option for consideration".  By this time most people had been misled by Highways England into thinking Location A was no longer an option.

The consultation received 47,034 responses from all over the UK and Europe, making it the largest ever public consultation for a UK road project.

The consultation info can be found on HE's website here.

Location C was recommended as HE said it offers far greater economic benefits and congestion relief.
On Weds 12 April 2017, the Secretary of State for Transport at the time, Chris Grayling, announced the preferred route, a tunnel under the River Thames east of Gravesend and Tilbury (location C, route three with the Western Southern Link).

Click here to read the associated press release.

Click here to read our TCAG update on how the preferred route was chosen
Highways England holds a second public consultation. This time it's a statutory consultation running for 10 weeks from Weds 10th October to Thurs 20th December 2018.

28,493 responses were received in this consultation.

The TCAG index to Statutory Consultation updates can be found here.

Info can also be found on HE's website here.
Highways England holds a supplementary consultation running from Weds 29th Jan to Weds 25th March 2020, which was later extended until Thurs 2nd April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TCAG index to Supplementary Consultation updates can be found here.

Info can also be found on HE's website here.

It was reported that over 6,000 responses were received to this consultation.
Highways England holds a design refinement consultation running from Tues 14th July to Weds 12th August 2020.

This consultation was held during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TCAG index to Design Consultation updates can be found here.

Info can also be found on HE's website here.
Highways England submitted the LTC Development Consent Order (DCO) on Fri 23rd Oct 2020.

At this time HE chose not to allow the release of the supporting documentation until the application was accepted.

The Planning Inspectorate then had 28 days to decide whether the application was adequate, and whether adequate consultation had been held.

Our TCAG DCO Updates Index can be found here
At the eleventh hour on Fri 20th November 2020 it was announced that Highways England had decided to withdraw the LTC DCO application. Had they not have withdrawn the application the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) were due to refuse it. Highways England announced at this time that they would be resubmitting the DCO application in early 2021. They announced a self set target of resubmission within 90-120 days from when the DCO application was withdrawn. They failed to meet this target. LTC DCO application withdrawn – click here HE update on the withdrawal of the LTC DCO application – click here Reasons for the LTC DCO withdrawal – click here
Highways England held a Community Impacts Consultation running 8 weeks from Weds 14th July through to Weds 8th September 2021.

More info on this on the TCAG Community Impacts Consultation Updates Index, which can be found here.

Info can also be found on Highways England's website here.

It has been reported that 3218 responses were received in this consultation.
National Highways held the Local Refinement Consultation for five and a half weeks from 00:01 on Thurs 12th May through to Mon 20th June 2022.

More info on this on the TCAG Local Refinement Consultation Updates Index, which can be found here.

Info can also be found on Highways England's website here.

It has been reported that 2297 responses were received for this consultation.

Since withdrawing the LTC Development Consent Order application in Nov 2020 National Highways/LTC have to date failed to meet any of their self set targets for the resubmission of the DCO application during 2021.

NH announced on Nov 1st that they had resubmitted the LTC DCO application on Mon 31st October 2022.

You can find out more about the DCO process and how things stand on our LTC DCO Updates Index DCO Updates Index 2022 on our website.

The Planning Inspectorate announced on Nov 28th 2022 that they have accepted National Highways LTC DCO application for examination.

Read our update on the acceptance news here.

The LTC DCO application documents are available online here.

The registration period for the LTC DCO opened on 9th Jan 2023 and ran through until 24th Feb 2023.

Anyone who wished to take part in the LTC DCO had to make a Relevant Representation within this period.

All Relevant Representations are published on the PINS LTC website page.

More info

On 9th March 2023 the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper MP issued a statement in which he announced that would be a 2 year delay to the start of LTC construction, if permission is granted.

Find out more
PINS published the Relevant Representations that were made during the registration period.

They can be viewed here.

As we were anticipating PINS to be preparing the draft timetable for the Preliminary Hearing, which triggers the start of the strictly 6 month Examination period, they instead issued a Procedural Decisions letter.

The letter details how PINS are asking NH to provide them with information, details, and timing of any changes and implications of the 2 year delay announcement.

It also stated that Thurrock Council had asked for a 3 month extension to the pre-examination stage of the DCO process, to allow them time to catch up on reviewing the DCO documents and prepare representations

PINS are also asking NH for comments and details of any implications such a delay might bring.

PINS have given NH until Thurs 30th March 2023 to respond with the requested info.

Finally, it detailed that NH are proposing yet another round of consultation, the Minor Refinements Consultation. They propose it will run for at least 30 days in Apr-May 2023.

As per details in the PINS Procedural Decisions letter, National Highways have until Thurs 30th to respond with the information requested by PINS

On 21st March PINS announced that NH had informed them of a proposed LTC Minor Refinements Consultation.

NH stated that the consultation was proposed for Apr-May 2023 lasting a minimum of 30 days.

TCAG have highlighted concerns that the proposed timing of the consultation clashes with purdah for local elections in Thurrock, Gravesham, and Tonbridge and Malling.

Since then National Highways have announced that the LTC Minor Refinements Consultation will run from Weds 16th May to Monday 19th June 2023.

More info - LTC Minor Refinements Consultation Updates Index

There are a number of procedural deadlines and meetings that take place before the DCO Examination begins, these take place in the Pre-Examination period.

These include a Programming Meeting for Local Authorities on 16th May, and two Preliminary Meetings on 6th and 20th June 2023.

You will need to pre-register to take part in these meetings, and you can also make written submissions by the set deadlines too.

More info on the DCO process/timeline

The DCO (Development Consent Order) is the official planning permission needed for huge projects like the proposed LTC which are considered Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).

The whole process usually takes around 18 months, including the application submission, pre-examination stage, and the Examination itself.

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) issued what is known as the Rule 6 letter on 25th April 2023.  This is the official letter that advises of the process and draft Examination Timetable.

DCO Examinations strictly last a maximum of 6 months.

There will be some pre-examination procedural meetings on 16th May, 6th June, and 20th June 2023.

The official 6 month Examination period will begin straight after the pre-examination meeting on 20th June ends.  The first official Examination Hearing will be an Open Floor Hearing starting at 6pm on the 20th June.  There will be many other hearings and deadlines to submit written representations throughout the Examination before it ends on 20th December 2023.

Once the Examination ends the Examining Authority will have 3 months to consider and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport as to whether they think permission should be granted or not.  The Secretary of State will then have a further 3 months to consider and make an announcement on whether they are granting permission (the DCO) or not.

A short 6 window then follows to allow time for any legal challenge, if there is a case to be heard.

Construction cannot begin until and unless permission is granted.  With the proposed LTC specifically the Government have announced that there will be a two year delay in the start of construction, if permission is granted.

You can find more on the LTC DCO process here

Transport Action Network - The NSIP planning timetable - infographic

Campaign for better transport - A guide to the NSIP planning process

Planning Inspectorate - Info on the DCO process

Planning Inspectorate - LTC project page

With the current draft DCO Timetable it is expected that the Secretary of State for Transport should make a decision on whether permission will be granted or not around late June 2024.

Government can sometimes delay announcing the decision, and it will be interesting to see if this government delay the decision in the run up to the next General Election considering how controversial the proposed LTC is.
National Highways had predicted that, if they are granted a Development Consent Order, construction of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing would begin in 2024/5.

However, on 9th March 2023 government announced that IF permission is granted the start of construction would be delayed by 2 years.  Find out more.

National Highways predicted that, if they are granted a Development Consent Order, according to their current plans the proposed Lower Thames Crossing would open in 2029-2030.

This was a little questionable since they had always said that construction would take 6-7 years, if permission is granted, and the dates don't add up that well when you consider they were predicting starting construction in 2024/25.

However, this all changed again when government announced on 9th March 2023 that even IF permission is granted construction would be delayed by 2 years, ie starting around 2026/27.

This means that if granted permission, and taking into account the current information available, and based on a construction period of 6-7 years, the new crossing would open around 2032-2034.


Obviously as we have already seen these things are subject to change, and we will do our best to keep this Lower Thames Crossing timeline up to date and things progress.



Whilst NH do not have permission for LTC, they have begun and are progressing through a process for contracts and tenders for various aspects of LTC related works – click here to read more.

National Highways LTC timeline – click here