Thurrock Council is encouraging residents across the borough to share their views on controversial plans to build new roads and a further tunnel under the Thames, linking Thurrock to Kent.
The National Highways-led Lower Thames Crossing programme is set to be one of the largest transport infrastructure projects ever seen in the UK.
Under the current proposals, the crossing will incorporate two new 4km long tunnels running under the Thames, as part of 23km of new road infrastructure connecting the M25 to the A13 in Thurrock, through to the A2 in Kent.
To do so, it will swallow up nearly 10% of all the land in Thurrock, with development taking place on around 11% of much-loved local Green Belt land.
Despite a long period of engagement with National Highways on the proposal, and the impact it is set to have across the borough, Thurrock Council still has significant concerns that a number of mitigating actions it has brought forward have not been taken into consideration. This leaves uncertainty over the social, environmental and economic impact on local residents and businesses, both during the construction and long after it has been completed.
The council is strongly encouraging residents to ask questions and share their thoughts on the proposal through the National Highways 'local refinement consultation', which opens today (Thursday 12 May). The consultation will run for 5 weeks until Monday 20 June.
Cllr Rob Gledhill, Leader of Thurrock Council, said: "Decisions that are made today will affect the people of Thurrock for generations to come. The level of incoming investment in our borough is testament to our burgeoning position as a destination of choice for people, businesses, and talent – but as a council we have a duty to ensure we remain diligent and focused firmly on determining what impact major infrastructure programmes like this could have on the lives of our residents.
"National Highways have yet to offer enough evidence or assurances to convince us the Lower Thames Crossing, under its current proposals, will offer true benefits to the people of Thurrock. To the contrary, we have real concerns it will have a detrimental effect on our air quality and noise levels, will actually increase congestion and issues accessing our local roads, and will led to the decimation of some of our beloved green places and spaces."
Cllr Mark Coxshall, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Strategic Planning and External Relationships, added: "We recently surveyed people across the borough, and you have echoed our concerns. It is not too late to have your voice heard. We are in dialogue with National Highways and this latest consultation is your opportunity to join with us and raise any questions or concerns you have, so we can push for answers and help shape the project now before formal planning is submitted"
The council has provided dedicated information to help tell the story so far and share their specific concerns, at lowerthamescrossingthurrock.co.uk and thurrock.gov.uk/thames-crossing
To have your say on the National Highways consultation, go to National Highways: Lower Thames Crossing local refinement consultation.