Lower Thames Crossing Design Refinement Consultation - Project Updates

Closed 12 Aug 2020

Opened 14 Jul 2020


Project Updates

We carried out a comprehensive 10-week statutory consultation in 2018. After considering the responses received from that statutory consultation, we then carried out a nine-week non-statutory supplementary consultation earlier this year on a number of proposed changes to the project.

The changes described in this site have been informed by feedback received from our supplementary consultation, continued engagement with our stakeholders, ongoing design work and a greater understanding of technical constraints. This process has resulted in a number of additional refinements to our proposals and we would like to know your views on these. This design refinement consultation is the next key step in our planning for the project.

Following this design refinement consultation, we will consider the feedback received and use that to inform our DCO application, which we will submit to the Planning Inspectorate later this year.

To read more about the project’s timeline and the DCO process, please refer to the ‘Design and build’ section of our website at www.lowerthamescrossing.co.uk

What is the Lower Thames Crossing?

The Lower Thames Crossing is a proposed new road connecting Kent, Thurrock and Essex through a tunnel beneath the River Thames. It would provide much-needed new road capacity across the river east of London and deliver the other scheme objectives set out in the consultation materials.

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On the south side of the River Thames, the new road would link to the A2 and M2 in Kent. On the north side, it would link to the A13 in Thurrock and the M25 in Havering.

The tunnel crossing is located to the east of Gravesend on the south side of the River Thames and to the west of East Tilbury on the north side.

The Lower Thames Crossing proposals include:

  • approximately 14.3 miles (23km) of new roads connecting the tunnel to the existing road network
  • three lanes in both directions, apart from the southbound connection between the M25 and A13, where it would be two lanes, and around junctions
  • technology providing lane control and variable speed limits up to 70mph
  • upgrades to the M25, A2 and A13 where it connects to those roads
  • new structures and changes to existing ones including bridges, viaducts and utilities such as electricity pylons
  • two 2.6-mile (4.3km) tunnels crossing beneath the river, one for southbound traffic, one for northbound traffic
  • a free-flow charging system, where drivers do not need to stop but pay remotely, similar to that at the Dartford Crossing
  • traffic regulation measures that include prohibiting use by pedestrians, low-powered motorcycles, cyclists, horse riders and agricultural vehicles
  • provision of environment mitigation and replacement of special category land

Aims of the Lower Thames Crossing

We have worked with the Department for Transport (DfT) to agree the following objectives that we want the Lower Thames Crossing to achieve:

  • to support sustainable local development and regional economic growth in the medium to long term
  • to be affordable to government and users
  • to achieve value for money
  • to minimise adverse impacts on health and the environment
  • to relieve the congested Dartford Crossing and approach roads, and improve their performance by providing free-flowing, north-south capacity
  • to improve resilience of the Thames crossings and the major road network
  • to improve safety

As well as the scheme objectives above, we are developing the Lower Thames Crossing in line with the National Policy Statement for National Networks, which sets out government policies for nationally significant infrastructure road projects for England.

Why have we made changes to the project?

The refinements described in this site have been informed by feedback received from our supplementary consultation, continued engagement with our stakeholders, ongoing design work and a greater understanding of technical constraints. Some changes are to provide additional mitigation in areas such as environmental impacts. Others are as a result of critical work to deliver the scheme safely, including where utility companies would need to move some of their pylons or assets.

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We have tried to be sensitive to the needs of interested parties, especially those living in the vicinity of the project, while always being aware that we must deliver a viable scheme that satisfies national policy and the scheme objectives agreed with the DfT.

Outside of the proposals highlighted in this site and our associated consultation materials, we are not currently proposing further changes to the elements of the project presented during statutory and supplementary consultation.

This consultation is an important opportunity for you to comment on the proposals outlined in this site and our associated consultation materials. Please see ‘How to have your say’ for information about how you can give your feedback on the proposed changes.

When we submit our DCO application to the Planning Inspectorate later this year, we will include a Consultation Report that explains how we have considered feedback received from our statutory consultation in 2018, our supplementary consultation earlier this year and this consultation.

Additional updates

As well as the refinements presented in detail in this site, we would like to take this opportunity to provide the following updates:

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Road standard

The Lower Thames Crossing route would be defined as an all-purpose trunk road. This means the road would use green signage instead of the blue signage that is seen on conventional motorways. Whereas an all-purpose trunk road is usually accessible for all vehicles, there would be a restriction so only vehicles allowed on motorways would be able to use the Lower Thames Crossing. This is because it connects into existing roads on the strategic road network that can only be used by motorway traffic. The existing M25 and M2 would remain as motorways.

All of the Lower Thames Crossing, from the M25 junction to the M2/A2 junction, would be three lanes in each direction, except for the southbound link between the M25 and A13, and around junctions, which would be two lanes.

It would operate as an all-lane running trunk road, where there is no hard shoulder (with the exception of sections of the A13 interchange where lane drop/lane gain arrangements are introduced).

The route would be designed to the latest standards and use smart technology and signalling to help manage traffic. For more information on road standards, please visit www.standardsforhighways.co.uk/dmrb

Road safety

The design and operation of the Lower Thames Crossing will be guided by industry standards.

The design features include emergency areas spaced at intervals of between 800 metres and 1.6km, with the exception of the tunnel where enhanced operational and technology measures would be used. We are also assessing the feasibility of spacing emergency areas at intervals of 1.2km.

If a vehicle needs to stop before it reaches an emergency area, technology used along the route would detect the stopped vehicle and change the overhead lane control signals to indicate that the affected lane is closed to traffic.

Reducing the land required for works

As described at supplementary consultation, we have been working with our stakeholders, including the utility companies, to refine our proposals and minimise the land required for works. We have also been able to reduce the overall area within the development boundary by refining the design of utility diversions in some areas along the route.

In particular, following feedback from our supplementary consultation, we have been able to refine the land required for utility diversions shown at supplementary consultation around the A2 area and, in doing so, reduce the impacts on Shorne and Ashenbank Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and in other environmentally sensitive locations. This includes south of the river at Jeskyns Community Woodland and around Claylane Wood, where there is ancient woodland.

Property and landowners

There are approximately 150 residential and business properties within the revised development boundary. This has been reduced from approximately 270 properties presented at supplementary consultation. Around 70 would only be affected by works to adjust existing electricity cables above the properties, so would not need to be purchased for the project. At supplementary consultation, this figure was around 190.

User charging

It remains our proposal to apply a user charge for the Lower Thames Crossing, with a local resident discount scheme for those living in Thurrock and Gravesham. The level of the charge and the charging regime would replicate the approach applied on the Dartford Crossing. Therefore, the need for a Lower Thames Crossing charging consultation forum as suggested at statutory consultation is not considered necessary.

Continue to the next section: Section 3: Design refinements

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