'Hugely destructive': Action group slams proposed Lower Thames Crossing

Lower Thames Crossing

The new road which would run alongside the M25 and Ockendon Road as part of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing. - Credit: Joas.co.uk

The proposed Lower Thames Crossing has been condemned by an action group fighting against its construction.

Speaking to the Recorder, Laura Blake - chair of the Thames Crossing Action Group (TCAG) - was emphatic: "The proposed Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) would most definitely negatively impact all areas, including the Havering area considerably.

"At the end of the day, the LTC would be hugely destructive, create a toxic triangle, and ultimately would not solve the problems it was originally tasked to fix."

Proposed Lower Thames Crossing

A proposed view of the M25 junction 29 (looking north). - Credit: Highways England

If given the green light, the northern part of this crossing would begin in the borough - spelling six years of construction work between 2024-2029.

The Upminster ward is central to this because it is where Highways England (HE) proposes to build a junction between the new road and the M25.

There would be a 19-month closure of a section of Ockendon Road, while short-term overnight or weekend closures would be required in St Mary's Lane.

Alongside this the M25 would also be subject to construction work, particularly at junctions 29 and 28.

24/7 Construction Works

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The TCAG takes issue with how this work will be done, claiming that HE is "avoiding giving any definite details" of when or for how long 24/7 construction would take place.

A ward summary for Upminster - prepared by HE - states: "Most construction work would take place during the core construction hours, 7am to 7pm on weekdays, and 7am to 4pm on Saturdays.

"Additional repair and maintenance periods (if required) would be 8am to 5pm on Sundays.

"Noise-generating works would not be carried out outside core hours wherever practicable.

"However, there would be circumstances when hours may be extended."

When asked to clarify this, HE reiterated that such circumstances will be limited and that efforts will be made to minimise any impacts.

Thames Chase Community Forest

Separately, HE has proposed acquiring land to the north and south of the Thames Chase Community Forest in order to build the M25 northbound slip road. 

The TCAG has lamented how this would impact the forest area, specifically alleging that the Cranham Solar Farm would be destroyed.

HE confirmed that around 14.5ha (hectares) of land would be required - albeit some only temporarily - as part of the project.

This land would be replaced with 15.5ha of open space, all directly linked to the existing woodland.

However, the land currently used by Cranham Solar Farm would be lost due to being required for multiple land requirements (including the widening of the M25).

As a result, HE is working to reach an agreement with its operators, with whom they've been in discussions since early 2019.

The Dartford Crossing

The TCAG alleges that the problems proposed to be fixed by the crossing would remain: "The Dartford Crossing would remain over capacity even if the proposed LTC goes ahead, a fact proven by HE's own data. 

"Not only that - HE are not considering how traffic would migrate between the two crossings when there are incidents if the LTC goes ahead, and there would not be adequate connections."

HE deny the capacity point, stating that the Dartford Crossing would be back below its design capacity, and that the LTC would almost double road capacity across the Thames.

Local Roads

The TCAG also points to the potential impact on Gallows Corner, an issue raised by Romford MP Andrew Rosindell last November.

One of many concerns the group has been raising "for sometime now", the Recorder put this issue to HE.

According to the government-owned company, the LTC would change traffic flows across the whole region.

Improvements would be seen in many areas, while some would experience increased congestion.

The pledge is that a traffic impact monitoring programme will be conducted on the surrounding road network once the LTC opens.

This would be to help HE identify any changes in the performance of surrounding roads, and to understand any interventions which may be required.

For further information on the TCAG, visit thamescrossingactiongroup.com/

Comment before September 8 by visiting ltcconsultation.highwaysengland.co.uk/consultation/