On 12th April 2017, the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling MP announced the Government’s decision to locate the Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend.
The Parish Council is very disappointed, although not entirely surprised by this decision, since variations of Option C were the only choices option offered during the consultation. Perhaps the only surprise is Highways England’s change in recommendation from the Eastern Southern Link (ESL) to the Western Southern Link (WSL), which has been accepted by the Government.
Highways England say that they have listened to concerns raised about impacts on communities and protected environmental areas, and have conducted further assessment of both routes south of the river. Their assessment showed there is very limited opportunity to reduce the community and environmental impacts of the eastern link, particularly on the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and ancient woodlands.
Additional assessment was also conducted for the junction between the western link and the A2 to understand the extent to which the traffic performance could be improved. Their assessment identified that by re-working the design for the junction, it could offer a 70mph route without significantly increasing environmental or community impacts.
As a result of their further assessments, they amended their recommendation to the Western Southern Link, connecting to the A2 between Thong Lane and Marling Cross.
Whilst this may come as some relief to parishioners who would have been severely and directly impacted by the eastern link, it is no comfort to our parishioners in Thong and Shorne West. It also makes little difference to our neighbours in Chalk.
No-one should underestimate the potential impact on traffic through all parts of the parish, especially if the proposed junction with the A226 Gravesend Road goes ahead. This would entail the re-routing of the A226 southwards across farmland between Thong Lane and the Shorne boundary, and would result in a significant increase in traffic on Gravesend Road, as well as the feeder roads to it.
The Parish Council is meeting Highways England to obtain a better understanding of their proposals, and to press for maximum mitigation of adverse impact of the crossing and link road.
Further information can be found on our “Lower Thames Crossing” page on this website.