Lower Thames Crossing - Second Consultation
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
The Cabinet considered a report on the Council’s suggested response to the second public consultation by Highways England on the detailed proposals for the Lower Thames Crossing.
The Head of Regeneration reminded Members that the Council had responded to the initial consultation on the alternative options for the route of the crossing in 2016 strongly supporting a new crossing east of Gravesend (Option C). Following the consultation the Secretary of State had announced that this was the preferred route for the crossing. Since that announcement Highways England had been progressing the design of the scheme and details of the precise route, carrying out more detailed transport modelling and talking to affected authorities and parties. Some details of the routing and construction had been amended as a result of this work. The main focus of the latest consultation was on the details of the scheme, the routeing, design of junctions, structures, connections with the surrounding road network and environmental impacts.
The new crossing was one of the largest single road investment projects in the UK since the M25 was completed and would be one of the largest bored tunnels in the world. The latest traffic modelling predicted that once the new crossing opened there would be a reduction in passenger traffic using the Dartford Crossing of 24% and 19% in 2041 in peak hours compared to the situation without a new crossing. The proportion of HGV’s using the Dartford Crossing was predicted to fall from 18% to 14% once the new crossing opened and was projected to remain at this level in 2041. This was an improvement from the original traffic modelling which had predicted an overall decrease in traffic using the Dartford Crossing of 14% once the new crossing opened. The original design for the tunnel had provided for two lane traffic each way but the revised design now provided for three lanes each way and for an extended approach to the tunnel and a simplified junction from the A2/M2.
The Council’s proposed response to the consultation exercise, which was due to end on 20 December 2018, strongly supported the need for the Lower Thames Crossing, its proposed location east of Gravesend and some of the changes to the preferred route which had been made since the last consultation. The proposed location would provide a faster, more reliable route to the Midlands and the North from Kent ports but it was disappointing that the opportunity was not being taken to provide a link from the Lower Thames Crossing onto the A13 westbound towards the Port of Tilbury. The proposals would see a genuine improvement in the resilience of the strategic and local road network, boost British business and the national economy whilst the changes to the design of the route since the first consultation should also be beneficial and help to alleviate some of the negative impacts of the scheme on neighbouring authorities. It was however acknowledged that some areas would experience increased traffic flows due to other factors such as development and the Council’s response urged Highways England to address issues on those parts of the network where there would be pressure. The Council also supported a free-flowing e-charging system with differential charging for the new crossing and urged Highways England to implement the new crossing as soon as possible and to bring forward arrangements to improve traffic flows at the Dartford Crossing and its approach in the meantime.
The Cabinet had regard to the comments made at the Cabinet Advisory Panel.
That the response to the consultation questions set out in Appendix A to the report be agreed as the Council’s response to the second consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing.
Publication date: 07/01/2019
Date of decision: 06/12/2018
Decided at meeting: 06/12/2018 - Cabinet
Effective from: 07/12/2018