by Rachel Hovenden
Plans to build a lower Thames crossing which would affect about 22,000 people have been formally opposed by councillors.
Four councillors put forward motions opposing the crossing route east of Gravesend at a Gravesham council meeting last night.
Cllr Robin Theobald, for Shorne, Cobham and Luddesdown ward, and Cllr Leslie Hills for Chalk, had already opposed the crossing, but before the meeting added a clause suggesting that the tolls at Dartford be removed for a trial period.
This was accepted by the council.
Cllr John Burden (pictured), for Northfleet South, and Cllr Lee Croxton, for Riverside, had also put forward a motion opposing the lower Thames crossing “being placed in any part of Gravesham or within the green belt, east of Gravesend between Gravesend and the Medway Towns”.
They called for all tolls to be permanently removed from Dartford.
Despite concerns that some aspects of the motions conflicted, the council passed them both unanimously.
Cllr Theobold said: “I am concerned about how the lower Thames crossing could affect us. We need to show government we are opposed to this.”
Cllr Burden said: “If we call on the government to remove charges as well as the toll booths, as they first suggested when building the bridge, this could show the crossing to be unnecessary.”
Two routes have been proposed by KCC which would go through north Kent to Essex.
One route would clip Shorne Woods Country Park and the other would go through the Southern Valley Golf Course.
Richard Knox-Johnston, Protect Kent chairman, suggested earlier this year that an electronic recognition system at the Dartford tolls would be better and might leave a lower Thames crossing unnecessary.
If built, the crossing would cost £1 billion, but KCC estimates it would raise about £30m in tolls a year.
A tunnel is KCC’s preferred option rather than a bridge.