More than 6,000 people have taken part in a public consultation into plans for Britain’s biggest roads project for a generation.
Under Highways England plans a new 14.3 mile road would link Kent, Thurrock and Essex via the UK’s longest road tunnel under the River Thames. The consultation, which closed last night (Thursday 2 April), asked for feedback on the latest design changes and proposals.
Originally scheduled to run for eight weeks from Wednesday 29 January, Highways England extended the consultation by a week, reflecting the Government’s guidance on managing the Coronavirus. The extension was to give people more time to complete their consultation response, and also to enable organisations taking part in the consultation to complete their governance processes, which may have been disrupted recently. Throughout the engagement process, over 74,000 people visited the project’s dedicated consultation website.
Alan Seywright, Project Director for the Lower Thames Crossing, said: “We’d like to thank everyone who participated in our consultation and provided feedback, especially given the challenges of recent weeks. The responses will play a vital part in firming up our plans for the Lower Thames Crossing. We’ll continue to work with businesses, communities and local authorities to develop the design and maximise opportunities to unlock economic growth and improve access to leisure, retail and job opportunities.”
The consultation sought views on the latest changes to the project, resulting from the 29,000 responses during a previous consultation and new technical information from surveys and ground investigations.
Now it has closed, Highways England will analyse the responses. These will inform the plans for the project’s planning application, known as a Development Consent Order (DCO) application, to be submitted later this year. As part of the DCO application, Highways England will also submit a Consultation Report, explaining how the issues raised during the consultations were considered and addressed.
Highways England is also anticipating a further round of consultation on some design refinements ahead of submitting the DCO application later this year. This would provide communities and stakeholders with a further opportunity to consider its proposals and share their views.
When it is built, the Lower Thames Crossing would almost double road capacity across the River Thames east of London, connecting communities, reducing delays and providing more reliable journeys.