At a meeting with Gravesham MP Adam Holloway, Kent-based campaign group Lower Thames Crossing Association (LTCA) has slammed Highways England’s latest plans for the Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend.
Whilst the group welcomed the extension of the tunnel to the south of the A226 at Chalk, they say it is nowhere near enough.
“Highways England had no choice but to move the tunnel entrance, otherwise they would have drained the internationally-protected RAMSAR marshland,” said LTCA spokesman Bob Lane. “After looking at extending the tunnel by 1200 metres, they ended up moving it by just 600 metres. It seems that they care more about wildlife than they do about the thousands of people who will suffer noise and pollution from the 80,000 vehicles a day expected to use the crossing,” said Bob.
LTCA campaigned for a cut-and-cover tunnel either side of Thong Lane to give the residents in nearby Thong and Riverview Park some degree of protection from the traffic on the main approach road, but all that Highways England propose to build is a flyover with a grass verge alongside it. “This so-called green bridge looks suspiciously like they are just putting in a provision to widen Thong Lane at some time in the future,” said Aaron Elliott, LTCA representative for Riverview Park. “It will do nothing to mitigate the impact of a 6-lane motorway just yards from peoples’ homes.”
Campaigners are also incensed that the crossing will mean that residents from Gravesend East will lose their direct access to the A2 and M2. “In future, motorists wishing to get to the M2 or the Medway Towns will have to negotiate 7 roundabouts along a convoluted link road to join the A2 at Shorne,” said LTCA Chairman Robin Bull. “This will just add to frustration and congestion, and will create rat-runs as drivers seek to find an alternate route,” said Robin.
Despite spending the last 2 years refining their design, Highways England have still not produced any information on the amount of increased traffic that the crossing will generate on local roads through places like Shorne, Cobham, Sole Street, and Meopham. “It seems that all they are interested in is traffic on the A2, M2, and M20,” said LTCA spokesman Bob Lane. “It is as though they consider that the impact on the smaller local roads is not their problem.”
LTCA calls on Highways England to address these issues before it is too late, to minimise the impact on thousands of peoples’ lives.