The proposed Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) has been hit by a two-year delay due to factors including "inflationary pressures", pushing its potential opening date into the early-2030s. 

Due to run from Kent up into Essex, linking the M2/A2, A13 and the M25, the project is intended to alleviate traffic pressures around the Dartford Crossing. 

Currently sat with the Planning Inspectorate, after the government agreed to examine National Highways’ proposals last year, the scheme has come under criticism for aspects including its potential environmental impact. 

Campaigners have also claimed it is designed to be a smart motorway “by stealth”, despite such projects being paused by the government in January 2022. 

Mark Harper, the transport secretary, has now announced that the LTC is to be “slowed down by two years”.  

Having already sunk £800million into the scheme, he said the delay from government is to “allow more time to take into account stakeholder views and prepare an effective and deliverable plan, while helping to meet inflationary pressures and deliver the planning processes properly”. 

Romford Recorder: Mark Harper, the transport secretaryMark Harper, the transport secretary (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

National Highways currently notes on its website that an opening is planned for 2029/2030, meaning a two-year delay will push it into either 2031 or 2032, assuming no further hold-ups. 

Laura Blake, chair of the Thames Crossing Action Group (TCAG), said: “Rather than delay, the government should put the scheme out of its misery and cancel it for good, rather than continuing to blight people’s lives. 

“The country cannot afford £10billion-plus on a project that is not effective or fit for purpose, nor deliverable at a time of climate emergency. 

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“Whilst we welcome this news, we will continue to present our evidence to the examining authority as to why the proposed LTC fails to meet scheme objectives and should not be granted permission. Our fight continues.” 

The announcement from Mr Harper came as he also outlined delays to the HS2 project, with the Birmingham to Crewe leg to be pushed back in an effort to cut costs.