Brewers Wood Photo: Greg Hitchcock

A coalition of conservation organisations and groups have written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, calling for an immediate review of the Lower Thames Crossing.

The scheme has been discussed in different forms for a number years, but campaigners say that it should finally be scrapped on the basis of cost, environmental and climate impacts.

The planned road scheme under the Thames would destroy irreplaceable ancient woodland, veteran trees and other habitats, increase nitrogen pollution, damage landscapes and increase carbon emissions.

These impacts would likely make this England’s most damaging road scheme for a generation, which is in stark contrast to claims by National Highways that it will be the ‘greenest road ever built in the UK’.

A range of natural habitats and landscapes in Kent and Essex are under threat, such as ancient woodland, the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the mosaic of open habitats in the Thames Estuary. But conservation organisations and the public have been left to guess the scale of impact. In addition, National Highways has only reluctantly released information regarding the scheme’s huge carbon footprint.

National Highways has just resubmitted its Development Consent Order (DCO) application to the Planning Inspectorate. However, there are serious concerns that, the level of detail provided to the public through the various consultations has been entirely unacceptable. Without adequate information, there has been a severe lack of meaningful public engagement and consultation on this scheme.

Over the past few years, the UK Government has committed to address the ongoing climate and nature crises by setting targets in the Environment Act 2021 to halt species abundance decline, and committing to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with a 78% reduction in emissions by 2035, and a 68% reduction by 2030. Yet, the scheme simply doesn’t match Government rhetoric towards how we should be treating the environment in modern times.

The coalition is calling on Mark Harper to commit to an immediate review of the proposals in light of the ongoing flaws in the consultation and its failure to meet the Government’s own environmental commitments.

By Ed

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