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People all over Europe are asked for their views on Lower Thames Crossing as consultation reaches its halfway point

By Lynn Cox

People all over Europe are being asked for their views on the new Lower Thames Crossing as the consultation period reaches its halfway point.

In fact, more than 15,000 people have already had their say on proposals for the major new road to link to connect the county to Thurrock and Essex as the 10-week consultation reached the halfway stage.

The consultation is an opportunity for people to help shape the once-in-a-generation opportunities that crossing will bring.

Yet some people have questioned why people living thousands of miles from the crossing should be given a say when they will not be affected by the environmental impact.

It has been dubbed Britain’s biggest road project since the M25 was built and people still have five weeks to share their views on it.

The crossing, set to be built to the east of Gravesend, will nearly double road capacity across the River Thames and will almost halve northbound journey times at the Dartford Crossing when it opens to traffic in 2027.

How the southern portal of the Lower Thames Crossing, in Kent, will look
How the southern portal of the Lower Thames Crossing, in Kent, will look

Highways England began the consultation into a roads project on Wednesday, October 10 and has staged 10 public information events so far which 9,480 people went along to.

When it is opened it will run for 13 miles, with a three-lane tunnel running for two miles between Gravesham and Thurrock.

The route will link drivers to the M25, the A2 and the A13, and will cost between £4.4 to £6.2 billion.

David Manning development director for the new crossing (5381683)
David Manning development director for the new crossing (5381683)

David Manning development director for the new crossing was at the Dartford Crossing earlier today to talk about the consultation.

He said: "We are really pleased with the level of turn out we've had at our events and also the amount of feedback we've had online.

"We expected a large volume of responses as this is Highways England's largest highways scheme since the M25 and is our largest consultation ever undertaken.

"All the responses are hugely valuable and we are at a critical stage in the development of our scheme in preparation to take it to planning, so we are getting a huge range of feedback all around connectivity, air quality, noise, benefits and we are really listening.

"We will use this feedback to shape our final design."

Emails have also been sent out to all Dart Charge account holders whether they live in this country or elsewhere across Europe.

Highways England consultation on the new plans for the £6 billion Lower Thames Crossing ends on December 20. Picture: Andy Jones
Highways England consultation on the new plans for the £6 billion Lower Thames Crossing ends on December 20. Picture: Andy Jones

One woman who has an account but lives in France and did not want to be named, said she was surprised to have been asked her views on the plans.

She said: "As someone based in mainland Europe I believe it is entirely inappropriate to invite people living thousands of miles away to have a say in the siting, or workings, of the motorway.

"I received a previous survey invite last year and responded out of curiosity to see what information was included and to what I might be able to respond.

"At the end of the survey I included the feedback that overseas addresses should be purged from the survey.

"I use the current crossing two, or at most four, times a year.

"I will be one of many users, private and commercial, based in Scotland, Wales, England - west or north of London - or mainland Europe, who have had to create an account simply to cross the Thames at Dartford a few times a year - due to the inability to pay by any other means than online.

"This does not mean we should have a say on a project that may have a huge impact on local residents.

"Despite having lived in Kent for 10 years I have absolutely no knowledge of the areas potentially being impacted by the works.

"I currently live in a small village in a quiet, picturesque part of southern France."

How the Lower Thames Crossing junction with the M25 in Essex will look
How the Lower Thames Crossing junction with the M25 in Essex will look

However, Highways England say it is important people in Europe have their say on it as the currently crossing carries a lot of trade due to the volume of freight which comes from ports such as Dover and Felixstowe.

Spokesman for the east area Jack Tappin said: "The invite to consultation has gone out to Dart Charge account users as they will likely be the people using Lower Thames Crossing as they’re invariably the people who regularly, or at least repeatedly, cross the Thames, hence having an account.

"Also it’s worth noting that the purpose of the new crossing is not just to benefit Kent and Essex, and it wouldn’t realise the economic benefits if its scope was constrained to a county level.

"Dartford carries a lot of trade due to the volume of freight coming to ports such as Dover and Felixstowe, so many users will come from the continent.

"Hence confining the consultation to just the two counties would neglect a huge number of people who we anticipate using the new crossing, both further afield in the UK and in Europe.

"The consultation to date in the UK alone has had responses from as far away as the Orkney Islands and Belfast."

The consultation ends on Thursday, December 20.

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