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Protest against Lower Thames Crossing Option C held in Community Square, Gravesend

By Clare Freeman

People from across North Kent turned out for at a rally this afternoon to protest against the plans to build a new Thames crossing, east of Gravesend.

Around 600 people carrying banners and placards from Shorne, Higham, Chalk, Riverview Park, and the surrounding areas assembled on Community Square, outside Gravesend Civic Centre, at noon.

Among those speaking at the event were Gravesham MP Adam Holloway, Gravesham council leader John Cubitt, and fellow borough councillors Les Hills, who represents Chalk, Harold Craske, who represents Higham, and Robin Theobald, who represents Shorne, where he is also chairman of the parish council.

The protest took place in Community Square, Gravesend

The protest had been organised by Abridge2far, a campaign opposing a crossing east of Gravesend.

Bob Lane, a member of Abridge2far and a parish councillor in Shorne, arranged today's protest.

He said: "You can tell there's a lot of opposition, not just from Shorne, but Chalk, Higham, all parts of Gravesend, Meopham as well. These proposals, if they go ahead will affect everybody in North Kent.

Gravesham’s MP Adam Holloway speaking at the protest

"The proposals are quite ridiculous, they cut through a SSSI, they cut through the village of Shorne, they go within 300 yards of the school, it knocks down 11 houses.

"We don't need that, it will not sure the problem at Dartford. They really need to address the problems at Dartford for the people in Dartford."

Abridge2far has also written to all 83 Kent county councillors in advance of the cabinet meeting in early March when KCC will announce its policy, urging them to reject the proposals.

Both variants of Option C would meet at the same point over Gravesend Road, A226. The current view will be disrupted by the new road.

Previously KCC has been vocal in support of option C, which could cost almost £6 billion and would require a new road east of Gravesend meeting up with the A226, across from junction 1 of the M2 and north west around Shorne. That support caused Cllr Bryan Sweetland to step down from his KCC cabinet role.

Speaking today Mr Sweetland, county councillor for Gravesham Rural, said: "I have been speaking out against this for eight years now and it's been going on for a lot longer than that.

"It's an area of outstanding natural beauty and has all the protection that you need from European laws and everything else, and they are still determined to plough a six lane motorway through it all, and it's absolutely disgraceful."

The protesters are against plans for Option C which will sit east of Gravesend

Despite a Highways England report recommending option C as the only viable choice, the decision is still up to the government, following an eight-week public consultation to end on March 24.

Local historian Christoph Bull will lead a guided walk to show the proposed route on Sunday, March 6, from 2.30pm, meeting at the junction of Castle Lane and Lower Higham Road, Chalk. For information, call 07702 287147.

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