Thames crossing

Lower Thames Crossing proposals

Highways England is proposing to build a new Lower Thames crossing that will include major highway through Thurrock – go to Highways England: Lower Thames Crossing.

Highways England has said the project's main proposals include:

  • 2 new 2.5 mile (4km) tunnels under the Thames – one southbound and one northbound
  • about 14.5 miles (23km) of new road, connecting the tunnels to the existing road network
  • 3 lanes in both directions with a 70mph speed limit
  • improvements to the M25, A2, and A13 where the crossing connects to these roads
  • new structures and changes to existing ones – including bridges, buildings, tunnel entrances, viaducts and utilities such as electricity pylons – along the length of the new road
  • a free-flow charging system similar to that at the Dartford Crossing, where drivers do not need to stop but pay remotely

Consultation on plans to build and operate the crossing

From 14 July 2021 to 8 September 2021, Highways England is running a public 'Community Impacts Consultation', inviting you to review and comment on:

  • their plans to build and operate the Lower Thames Crossing
  • how they propose to reduce their impact on the local community and environment

For details of the consultation, including webinars and events, go to Highways England: Lower Thames Crossing community impacts consultation.

Development consent

To get permission to build and operate the new crossing, Highways England must seek consent through a special planning process and be awarded a Development Consent Order (DCO) from the government's independent planning authority, the Planning Inspectorate.

On 20 November 2020, Highways England said it:

  • had withdrawn its DCO application based on early feedback from the Planning Inspectorate
  • will get the information needed for the points raised and resubmit the application early in 2021

Go to Highways England: Development Consent Order update.

The documents below are letters sent to the Planning Inspectorate on 5 November 2020, concerning the adequacy of consultation response following the application for a DCO by Highways England.

Read the Joint statement from Thurrock Council and Gravesham Borough Council on the Lower Thames crossing in response.

Our reports

In February 2020, we commissioned a study that highlights the possible economic and social harm to Thurrock if Highways England goes ahead with its proposals for the Lower Thames Crossing route.

You can download the study, along with its executive summary and our non-technical report, below.

The first report below was produced in February 2021. It looks at options for off-setting the negative impacts on Thurrock's residents and businesses, as set-out in the February 2020 report.

Highways England public consultations

From 14 July 2020 until 12 August 2020, Highways England held its most recent public consultation on plans to build a major highway through Thurrock as part of a proposed new Thames crossing.

This consultation followed design refinements made as a result of previous consultation feedback and ongoing scheme development work. The proposed changes included:

  • minor refinements to elements of the highways design
  • updated paths for walkers, cyclists and horse riders
  • proposals for redirecting and upgrading utilities
  • more detailed landscaping proposals
  • further developed ecological mitigation measures

To find out more about the plans, go to Highways England: Lower Thames Crossing design refinements consultation.

Highways England had previously consulted on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing in early 2020, 2018 and 2016. The first public consultation was from 21 May 2013 to 16 July 2013.

Our response to the 2018 consultation

We were not given an advance copy of the consultation documents, despite many requests. An Extraordinary Council meeting on Tuesday 11 December 2018 agreed the council’s response.

The 3 main findings and recommendations in our response are:

  • the consultation scheme does not meet several of the national and Highways England's strategic policy tests and design objectives, particularly relating to option testing, the delivery of economic growth and achieving sustainable local growth

  • the consultation scheme does not make provision for the potential for housing and development aspirations for the borough and the wider south Essex area, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and emerging Local Plan

  • there are specific design elements of the consultation scheme that require modification and/or further consideration by Highways England in order to meet the Lower Thames Crossing's policy and design objectives

The full report papers are available to download from the Extraordinary Council meeting agenda, 11 December, item 85. You can also watch a video recording of the council meeting.

More information

For more information, go to: