The Lower Thames Crossing

I have written here before about the growing threat to the English (and Welsh) countryside of new roads. Now the issue has arisen close to home, with plans for a new river crossing east of Gravesend. I have a letter in today’s Medway Messenger, written as a Rochester resident – CPRE Kent’s much more measured, official line on this proposed act of vandalism is here. I suspect I will be writing more about this issue in the coming weeks. My letter is below.

I loved the picture of the proposed new Thames crossing in last week’s paper. How clean it looks! The picture shows mostly undisturbed countryside and its caption reads: ‘how the new bored tunnel will look in Kent’. But no road is ever as innocuous as the picture suggests. In reality, the new road will come with lots of noise, light pollution, air pollution and general ugliness. It will cut through beautiful countryside, destroy ancient woodland and blight the wonderful Shorne Wood Country Park.

The pity is that all this damage, at huge expense, will do little to relieve congestion in the longer term. All the evidence is that new roads generate demand and quickly fill up. Any sustainable solution to the Dartford bottleneck will require a serious look at demand management, including the encouragement of regional ports.

Your leading article remarks on the sleepy response of local politicians and Medway Council [a Medway Council spokesperson was quoted as saying ‘It’s much more a Gravesham thing though isn’t it?’]. They need to wake up to the harm this new road will cause.


5 Responses to “The Lower Thames Crossing”

  1. 1 Peter Cleasby February 5, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Shaun, judging by the picture there’s a lot of water around as well. Hope they get the drains right – particularly since a lot of chalk looks set to disappear!
    But I agree with you on the principle. The Thames is a natural and real barrier – we need to develop a mindset which doesn’t default to breaking down such barriers. Cross-channel freight originating north of the Thames should find its way to Europe via the Humber or the Essex/Suffolk ports, if it has to go by road at all (or if it has to go at all, period).

  2. 2 geoff lambert February 6, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Another road another CPRE objection. This road is underground (not a bridge) but even that does not deter us. DFDS have just withdrawn the Denmark ferry because it is uneconomic and cars/passengers can no longer travel by sea to Norway. There are plenty of freight carriers across the North Sea. But I recall our objections to upgrading the roads to Hull, Felixstowe so that these services could be used. No wonder we are loosing members, while other groups are seeing membership growing, when will be learn to be more constructive.

    • 3 sspiers February 7, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      Geoff, the tunnel is underground (of course) but the roads to and from won’t be. They go through some lovely countryside in north Kent and south Essex, both of which are already very built up and which have (in north Kent’s case, at least) poor air quality. Like you I want CPRE to be constructive. Like you, I do not think we should oppose all development, even when it damages the countryside. But we are the Campaign to Protect Rural England! Our membership would not grow much if we stopped opposing the needless destruction of the countryside – and even if it did, we would have lost a large part of our purpose.

      Yes, we should be constructive, recognise that change will always happen and that much of it can be for the good; but we must also be prepared to be bloody-minded defenders of the countryside. If not CPRE, who?

      We have consistently supported a better distribution of freight, for example in our responses to the Dibden Bay proposal and the National Policy Statement on ports. We have opposed specific road schemes, but generally we propose less environmentally damaging alternatives.

  3. 4 andrew needham February 7, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Re regional ports.

    In the ‘North West Ambitions’ report, Peel Ports chief executive Mark Whitworth says Liverpool2 – the Port of Liverpool’s new £300m deep-water container terminal – has the potential to create major change in UK distribution activity, attracting manufacturers and logistics businesses to be based in the region.

  4. 5 Robert Flunder April 4, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    With an ever growing population there will be ever growing road traffic – why cant CPRE bring itself to publicly acknowledge this fact ?

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