Gravesham Borough Council in Kent has reiterated its opposition to the principle of a Lower Thames Crossing to the east of Gravesend in the week that the examination into the proposal opened.
At a meeting of full council, members voted unanimously to reaffirm the authority’s opposition to the siting of the proposed crossing, endorsed a number of key mitigation measures they want to see for the Borough should the project go ahead, and confirmed their objection to the loss of land to the project at Cascades leisure centre.
The vote coincided with the opening of the six-month examination into National Highways’ application for a development consent order for the proposed crossing, at which the council will be presenting its case as to why it should not be given consent.
Speaking after Tuesday’s meeting, Cllr John Burden, Leader of Gravesham Borough Council, said: “Since December 2015 we have been consistent in our opposition to the proposed site of the Lower Thames Crossing because of the impact it will have on our local residents, businesses and the environment.
“With a number of new members, both Labour and Conservative, having been elected in May, it was important to give them a chance to make their views heard as we go into the public examination of the proposals.
“This vote sends a very clear message to both the examining authority and National Highways that we remain resolute in our view that this is the wrong site for a new Thames crossing.”
Cllr Burden added that the support of members from across the Borough highlighted the real concerns about the detrimental impacts the crossing would have throughout Gravesham.
He said: “Of course, a lot of the focus is on the environmental impact, noise, disturbance, and health concerns we have for those living closest to the tunnel portal and the approach road in Gravesend.
“But the impact will be felt far more widely than that.
“We have very real concerns about the effect of the big increases in traffic on the A227 corridor through Vigo, Meopham and Instead Rise, and the A226 between Higham and Gravesend and all the health implications that brings for residents in those areas.”
Members also endorsed a list of key asks of National Highways for measures to bring benefits to Gravesham should the crossing go ahead, calling for:
- A skills and training hub in Gravesham to allow local people to take maximum advantage of construction job opportunities
- Free or discounted travel for Gravesham residents over both Thames crossings
- Increased environmental improvements, such as tree planting
- Infrastructure to support the use of hydrogen as fuel
- Improved leisure infrastructure connected to the new Cascades Leisure Centre
- A proper supply of housing for LTC construction workers to avoid additional strain on the already stretched local housing market
- Addressing concerns about traveller caravans on two sites which would be surrounded by construction works for five and a half years.
Cllr Burden said: “As we head into the examination process for the crossing, we will continue to argue our case on two fronts – firstly, that this is the wrong place for it; secondly, if it is to go ahead, this borough deserves full and proper mitigation measures to compensate for the huge impacts it will have on our quality of life.”
(Picture – National Highways)