National Highways (formerly known as 'Highways England') is proposing to build a new Lower Thames Crossing that will include major highway through Thurrock.
2013 government consultation
In 2013, the government consulted on proposals for a new river crossing in the lower Thames area.
The outcome of the consultation, which ran from 21 May 2013 to 16 July 2013, is published at GOV.UK: Options for a new Lower Thames Crossing.
On 15 July 2014, the government published a response to the consultation, in which it stated:
- there is a need for a new crossing
- as there was no clear preference, government would develop and appraise route options
- the government expected to consult on its updated proposals in late 2015 or early 2016
Full details are at GOV.UK: Government response to the Lower Thames Crossing consultation.
Thurrock Council opposes government plans
Following a series of public meetings organised by Thurrock Council, councillors voted unanimously in November 2015 that:
"This Council remains opposed to government plans for a further river crossing in Thurrock and commits to continue campaigning, alongside local residents, on this issue."
From 26 January 2016 to 24 March 2016, National Highways (known as 'Highways England' at the time) held a consultation on updated proposals for a road crossing between Essex and Kent, across the river Thames.
In this consultation, they proposed a dual carriageway connecting junction 1 of the M2 to the M25 between junctions 29 and 30, which would cross under the Thames at a site just east of Tilbury and Gravesend. This site was referred to as 'Location C'.
The proposal included options for connecting routes – 3 north of the river and 2 south of the river. They also considered the site of the current M25 crossing. Go to National Highways: Lower Thames Crossing consultation to find out more about this consultation.
During this consultation, a public meeting was hosted by Thurrock Council at Tilbury Port, which more than 1,000 people attended.
Government announces a preferred route
On 12 April 2017, the government announced its preferred route – GOV.UK: preferred route for a new Lower Thames Crossing. The route would include:
- a bored tunnel crossing under the Thames east of Gravesend and Tilbury – 'Location C'
- a new road north of the river which will join the M25 between junctions 29 and 30
- a new road south of the river which will join the A2 east of Gravesend
On 17 November 2017, National Highways (as 'Highways England') published a second map showing its 'current thinking'.
2018 statutory consultation
We were not given an advance copy of consultation documents in 2018, despite many requests. An Extraordinary Council meeting on Tuesday 11 December 2018 agreed the council’s response.
The 3 main findings and recommendations in our response are:
the consultation scheme does not meet several of the national and National Highways ('Highways England') strategic policy tests and design objectives, particularly relating to option testing, the delivery of economic growth and achieving sustainable local growth
the consultation scheme does not make provision for the potential for housing and development aspirations for the borough and the wider south Essex area, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and emerging Local Plan
there are specific design elements of the consultation scheme that require modification and/or further consideration by National Highways ('Highways England') in order to meet the Lower Thames Crossing's policy and design objectives
The full report papers are available to download from the Extraordinary Council meeting agenda, 11 December, item 85. You can also watch a video recording of the council meeting.
2020 supplementary consultation
From 29 January 2020 until 9 April 2020, National Highways (as 'Highways England') held a supplementary public consultation. The proposals in this consultation included:
- changed configuration of the junction between the M2, A2 and Lower Thames Crossing
- removal of rest and service area and Tilbury junction
- moved through-route between Tilbury and the A13 junction
- redesigned slips roads at junctions of the Lower Thames Crossing, A13, A1089 and A1013
- removal of 1 lane southbound between M25 and A13/A1089
- changed structures over the Mardyke River, Golden Bridge Sewer and Orsett Fen Sewer
- changed layout of southbound link from M25 junction: Ockendon Road bridge over M25 will be retained
- changed layout for M25 junction 29 to reduce overhead cable changes
- revised development boundary of Lower Thames Crossing for property owners and landowners
- proposals for a walking, cycling and horse-riding network
- current environmental impacts due to design changes, changes in boundary and utilities diversions
- an update on building the Lower Thames Crossing
- an update on utility diversions – gas, electricity, water, sewers and communications
- an update on traffic assessments
- updates on funding, equal charging at the Dartford and Lower Thames crossings, and the Local Residents Discount Scheme
For details, go to National Highways: Lower Thames Crossing consultation 2020.
2020 design refinements consultation
From 14 July 2020 until 12 August 2020, National Highways (as 'Highways England') held another public consultation. This followed design refinements made as a result of previous consultation feedback and ongoing scheme development work. The proposed changes included:
- minor refinements to elements of the highways design
- updated paths for walkers, cyclists and horse riders
- proposals for redirecting and upgrading utilities
- more detailed landscaping proposals
- further developed ecological mitigation measures
For details, go to National Highways: Lower Thames Crossing design refinements consultation.