The Office of Rail and Roads report that was released on 15th July 2021 is an annual review of Highways England’s performance. The proposed Lower Thames Crossing is mentioned numerous times in the report.
There is mention of an additional £363m to the cost of the proposed LTC, which have “contributed to an increasing cost pressure on funding requirements for RIS3“.
Just to explain quickly the Government’s road building programme is referred to as the Road Investment Strategy. It covers a 5 year period to each section of the RIS. The current one is RIS2 which covers 2020-2025. RIS3 will cover 2025-2030.
It is also worth noting on the topic of RIS3, that the Tilbury Link Rd now features in the list of RIS3 pipeline projects. Meaning that since it was removed from the LTC project, as they said there wasn’t a need for it, things are already progressing for the Tilbury Link Road to potentially be a road project in it’s own right within RIS3.
Back to the ORR report and the rising costs of LTC, it also states
“In addition, on Lower Thames Crossing, there is a 12-month delay in the development phase because Highways England is resubmitting its planning application. This is not currently reflected in the forecast as the company has not yet completed its assessment of the financial impact of this delay.”
We know that the figure announced in relation to cost of LTC in Spring 2020 was £6.4bn-£8.2bn. But we’re all more than aware that projects of this scale hardly ever run to budget. Whether this latest rise in cost pushes the overall cost over £8.2bn is not clear as yet.
But the ORR report also stated, they are “concerned that whilst the delay was known in November 2020, Highways England was still evaluating the RP2 and total outturn impact at year-end“.
Sadly Highways England’s lack of transparency, and ability to provide information in an efficient manner comes as no surprise to us. After all, that is what we have been experiencing throughout the whole consultation process.
When you consider the fact that the proposed LTC is already predicted to cost more per mile than the highly controversial HS2, we most definitely all have every right to be concerned.
Office of Rail and Roads Report (15 July 2021) – click here
Construction News – Lower Thames Crossing cost rises by £363m (July 2021) – click here
The Times – £27bn road scheme in a jam over legal battles and planning woes (July 2021) – click here
Highways – Thames Crossing funding still opaque as new consultation launched (July 2021) – click here