News

Highways England's assessment is flawed, argues Thurrock Council

1 December 2017

Thurrock Council has demanded that Highways England expand the scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed Lower Thames Crossing.

In its response to a scoping report sent to the Planning Inspectorate, Thurrock Council made clear its opposition to any new river crossing in the borough, while highlighting the number of important areas not included in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

The report covers areas such as air quality, noise and vibration, landscape, cultural heritage, and people and communities. A number of specifics the council would expect to be considered as part of the assessment have been left out, however – including measuring some particles in the air which have adverse health implications.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill, said: "I have lost count of the number of times we have asked Highways England for information, only to be told it is coming or they cannot provide it. It is clear they still haven’t provided the evidence which backs their plans for this crossing.

"As we make clear in our response, we have not been provided with sufficient material and information from Highways England to allow us to determine how the proposed crossing will meet its objectives. This is simply outrageous and I again repeat our demand to be provided with this information."

Cllr Mark Coxshall, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, said: "This is a really important part of the process and we need to make sure we get it right.

"As well as what is missing, which we have demanded is included, we also want there to be separate studies on the health and socio-economic impacts of this scheme on Thurrock and how improvements to trains, buses and cycling across the borough might create a more integrated approach to transport instead of just building a new road.

"Residents are rightly worried about the health impacts of a road cutting Thurrock in half and Highways England repeatedly promote the economic benefits of the crossing. If this is the case, they wouldn't have any issues with us checking the detail and that their sums add up."

Chair of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force, Cllr Peter Smith, said: "There were over 250 areas of concern uncovered by Thurrock Council that are not currently included in the assessment – and we will push Highways England to include them. A project on this scale needs to have all the considerations included, especially when it would blight the lives of so many of our residents.

"If these perfectly reasonable requests are not considered as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment – including those which have health risks attached – it would be for Highways England to explain why."

More information and the council's full response can be found at thurrock.gov.uk/thamescrossing

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