Unitary council threatens Highways England with legal action over Lower Thames Crossing

Thurrock Council is considering legal action against Highways England for its Lower Thames Crossing proposals which will create a “visible scar” on the landscape.

The new road, which will be the largest road tunnel in the UK, will connect Thurrock, Kent and Essex. It’s forecasted that more than 27 million drivers will use it in its first year.

But Thurrock Council leader Rob Gledhill has said his council will “fight these proposals using every legal means at our disposal,” and in its latest meeting councillors supported a motion to explore a judicial review, or any other legal action, that might be possible against Highways England.

He said: "The Lower Thames crossing will be a three-lane motorway, all of which is above ground, tearing through the heart of Thurrock and creating a visible scar on our landscape.

"Thurrock's residents and businesses will endure years of road works and disruption, severely affecting the health, wellbeing, and quality of life for our residents.

He said that at the end of the lengthy work, Thurrock would be “left with poor connectivity” with no access from the Orsett Cock roundabout or the eastbound A13, plus no direct link between the Port of Tilbury and the crossing.

He said: “This evening we have shown that councillors are united in their objection to these plans and in their determination to fight against these proposals every step of the way.

Highland Councils said the proposed crossing will provide 90% more road capacity across the River Thames east of London, and will reduce the number of vehicles using the Dartford crossing by 22%.

The plans for the crossing are currently under a 10-week consultation, running until 20 December, and Thurrock Council said it encourages residents to make their views heard.

The crossing was announced back in April 2017 and, following an updated design, will include 23km of new roads and two parallel 4km tunnels.

Last week, Southend council set out its plans to have a fourth Thames River Crossing east of the one planned alongside a number of infrastructure schemes, such as a campaign to have Crossrail extended to Southend-on-Sea.

Thurrock Council was part of seven “game-changing” south Essex councils in February as they formed a new unitary authority: The Association of South Essex Local Authorities.

 Image - Dartford Thames Crossing - Gareth Fuller/PA Archive/PA Images

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