Council leader calls for re-opening of public consultation on Lower Thames Crossing after plans withdrawn
- Credit: Archant
Havering Council leader Damian White has urged Highways England to re-open a public consultation after it was announced that the company had withdrawn its planning application for the Lower Thames Crossing.
Highways England confirmed that it had taken the decision to pull its submission for a Development Consent Order (DCO), which is a form of application required to proceed with a project of national significance.
The proposal would have seen a three-lane dual carriageway constructed to connect the M25 near North Ockendon to the M2 near Rochester, including a 2.4 mile tunnel between Gravesend and Tilbury.
A spokesperson confirmed the application will be re-submitted early in the new year and Cllr White said it needs to hear “insight” from the borough’s residents.
He said: “We are pleased to see that Highways England has withdrawn the planning application in order to reassess its proposals based on early feedback.
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“We join our fellow boroughs of Thurrock and Gravesham in urging it to re-open a meaningful public consultation.
“I feel that the way in which Highways England has carried out recent public consultations on this scheme is well short of our expectations given the importance of this project and I wrote to the Government about this in August.”
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In the letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, which the Recorder reported on in August, Cllr White said the original crossing proposal would lead to noise and disturbance issues, make the borough’s roads busier and undermine efforts to improve air quality.
He also called for Havering residents to receive a toll discount.
Now that the application has been withdrawn, Cllr White said: “Our local residents are the people who will be most affected by the Lower Thames Crossing – it is only right that they are listened to and that their voices are not silenced by Highways England.”
Councillors from the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Association group have drawn up a motion to be discussed at December’s full council meeting, which calls upon Cllr White to “reiterate” the council’s concerns about the proposed crossing to the government and the borough’s MPs.
The Highways England spokesperson said: “We’ve withdrawn the DCO application for the Lower Thames Crossing based on early feedback we’ve had from the Planning Inspectorate.
“We will take time to collate the information required for the specific points raised and will be resubmitting the application early in the new year.
“We have held a record-breaking programme of consultation and engagement for the Lower Thames Crossing, the most comprehensive ever undertaken for a UK road scheme.
“Since 2013 we have been in consultation for almost 300 days and have received almost 90,000 responses. This feedback has been instrumental is shaping our design and our DCO application.”