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Agenda item

Lower Thames Crossing - Supplementary Consultation

Summary:

 

To consider the Council’s response to a supplementary consultation on the route for the Lower Thames Crossing including any changes to the proposed route and to refine design.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the response to the consultation questions set out in Appendix A to the report be agreed as the Council’s response to the supplementary consultation by Highways England on the Lower Thames Crossing.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered the Council’s proposed response to a supplementary consultation being undertaken by Highways England on the route for the Lower Thames Crossing, including any changes to the route and design.  The current consultation had been undertaken on the basis of responses from the original statutory consultation on the route and design carried out in 2018. There had been 29,000 responses to the 2018 consultation with more than 80% of respondents recognising the need for a new crossing and 70% supporting the proposed location of the crossing to the east of Gravesend (Option C). Highways England had however refined their proposals in the light of the feedback from the original consultation and the principal updates were included in the report including changes to the configuration of the M2/A2 junction with the crossing, a change to the location of the southern tunnel entrance, removal of the rest and service centre at Tilbury, changes to ancilliary roads and the proposal to harmonise toll charges for the new crossing with charges at the Dartford Crossing and a local residents’ discount scheme.

The supplementary consultation also contained updated traffic modelling to take on board the proposed refinements with traffic flows and benefits being similar to those originally projected.

 

The Council’s response continued to urge Highways England to build the new crossing as soon as possible to address wider traffic problems in the area, to work with relevant authorities and organisations to develop measures for mitigating the temporary and permanent impacts, and to ensure that a flexible charging scheme was adopted to ensure that the long term benefits of the new crossing are realised. The Council was determined that the proposed changes should not delay progress on the main crossing which was currently projected to open in 2027/28. 

 

The Principal Transport Planner drew attention to the main aspects of the Council’s response including concerns about the lack of a link from the new crossing onto the A13, reducing the connectivity between Kent and Essex, the need for measures to mitigate impacts on surrounding road networks, concern over the removal of the rest and service area in Essex from the proposals and a desire for a flexible differential charging system between the new crossing and the Dartford crossing in order to encourage maximum use of the new crossing, particularly for freight. The Council also welcomed Highway’s England’s commitment to produce a Construction Code of Practice in conjunction with local authorities and statutory bodies to minimise the impacts on strategic and local roads and to inform the construction process.

 

A Member expressed concern over the removal of the rest and service area and said that this would have a detrimental effect on local residential roads, which would continue to be used by lorry drivers to rest overnight if these facilities were not available, with the associated problems of lorries being parked in unsuitable locations.     

 

The Chairman encouraged Members to respond to the consultation directly and voiced his opinion that there should be no charges at all for using the new crossing. Another Member felt that the same charging regime should apply as the current one at the Dartford crossing.

 

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.   

Supporting documents: