Government says Lower Thames Project will be delayed - even if it wins planning approval

By Neil Speight

9th Mar 2023 | Local News

The Lower Thames Crossing would cut swatches through Thurrock.
The Lower Thames Crossing would cut swatches through Thurrock.

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed news today (Thursday, 9 March) that the government has suspended implementation of the Lower Thames Crossing project for two years.

While the planning application process goes on, even if it is approved, a block has now been put on cash to build the controversial Thames tunnel and route through Thurrock's green belt.

The news was delivered by transport minister Mike Harper as part of a review of government spending on infrastructure. His full statement can be read here.

The news has been welcomed by the Thurrock-based Thames Crossing Action Group which says that today's new could be the 'beginning of the end' for the project – which has already cost tens of millions of pounds in its planning and development process.

Mr Harper said that while the crossing proposal remains 'live' in terms of an application for a development consent order, even if it is granted the start of construction would be delayed by two years. 

He added: "It is one of the largest planning applications ever, and it is important we get this right."  And went on to say: "…the Development Consent Order process will be an important opportunity to consult further to ensure there is an effective and deliverable plan."

Action Group Chair Laura Blake said: "This is the beginning of the end for this troubled scheme, Rather than delay, the government should put the scheme out of its misery and cancel it for good, rather than continuing to blight people's lives, The country cannot afford more than £10 billion on a project that is not effective or fit for purpose, nor deliverable at a time of climate emergency.

"While we welcome this news, we will continue to present our evidence to the Examining Authority as to why the proposed LTC fails to meet scheme objectives and should not be granted permission. Our fight continues!"

The decision will also have a significant impact on Thurrock's much-delayed Local Plan. The key document in plotting future development is already several years overdue and it is likely further uncertainty of the crossing project will delay its publication again.

East Tilbury independent councillor Fraser Massey, who chair's Thurrock Council's Thames Crossing task Force, told Nub News: "I welcome the news today that the Lower Thames Crossing will be delayed yet again. The opposition residents and various groups have shown towards this massively destructive project has led to the funding being pushed back further and further.

"The case keeps stacking against the crossing: cost, loss of green belt, the air quality considerations to name just a few.

"This is the best day for news I could have hoped for after a long fight against the LTC.

"It will still go through planning but the funding is more uncertain than ever. We need to stay alert, but this is major breathing space."

Related stories:

https://thurrock.nub.news/news/local-news/campaign-group-chair-welcomes-continues-thames-crossing-opposition-168641

https://thurrock.nub.news/news/local-news/council-pulls-the-plug-on-expert-advice-in-crossing-battle-167966

https://thurrock.nub.news/news/local-news/national-highways-awards-ps12-billion-crossing-contracy-despite-project-not-yet-having-approval-167827

     

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