On 10 July 2018, Highways England published a revised development boundary to replace the previous red line boundary. The revised boundary is available to view at https://highwaysengland.co.uk/lower-thames-crossing-in-my-area/
This shows the land they want to protect from conflicting development in case it is needed for constructing or operating the Lower Thames Crossing. They have asked local planning authorities to protect the land inside the development boundary from any new development that could potentially conflict with the scheme, and to advise them if any planning applications are submitted within 200 metres of the development boundary.
At the same time, they contacted homeowners and land owners who may be directly affected to inform them of the latest changes to the development boundary.
Since the last boundary was published in November 2017, Highways England say they have been working to better understand the impact of the scheme design on the environment and local communities, and the changes to the boundary are a result of this. They have identified areas that they think they might need, to manage flood risk and minimise the impact of the scheme on the local people, businesses and environment. Most of the additional land in the development boundary is for environmental mitigation, it is not the project itself getting bigger.
The main reasons for the changes are given as:
- Environmental mitigation – to help mitigate the impacts of the proposed road. For example, replanting areas of woodland or creating new wildlife habitats.
- Flood compensation – potential areas where they may need to lower the level of the existing land to replace flood zone that will be affected.
- Utility diversions –there are various utilities that may need to be diverted, such as overhead electricity pylons and gas pipelines. They have included land for diverting these within the revised development boundary.
Flood compensation land and areas required for utility diversions will be returned to previous use wherever possible once the work has finished.
Highways England state that the design of the Lower Thames Crossing will continue to evolve and the boundary will change further. They are still working on the design of the project and therefore do not yet have certainty on which land will be needed on a permanent basis and which land will be needed temporarily. They will be setting out the areas of temporary and permanent land at the statutory consultation, planned for later in 2018, and these will be further refined before submitting the application for development consent.
Highways England provided the following additional information to Shorne Parish Council:
Q. What is the very thin strip north of Chalk and running to the river Thames?
A. This has been identified as potentially being required to provide a drainage outfall from the road and tunnel to the River Thames.
Q. Why has the boundary west of Shorne and Shorne Woods Country Park been extended?
A. Environmental mitigation land and utility diversions – we may need some land to divert utilities.
Q. Why has the village of Thong been surrounded by the new development boundary?
A. We have identified an area of land to the east of Thong as potentially being required for the diversion of a gas pipeline. At this stage we are uncertain the route the diverted pipeline will take so have included an areas of land within which it may be located. This will be refined once we have undertaken further design work with the utility company.
Q. Why have has more land been included in the development boundary around Southern Valley Golf Club and south of the A226?
A. Areas of land in this areas have been identified for potential environmental mitigation, and for the diversion of gas, electricity and water supplies. There will also need to be a construction compound around the Southern Portal. We are still continuing to determine where the Southern Portal will be located, once this is known the area will be refined further ahead of Statutory Consultation later this year.
Q. Why has the boundary now been extended to the edge of the residential properties south side of Riverview Park and near Shorne West?
A. This area is to provide land for environmental mitigation and some of it is for utility diversion.