Medway Labour Group recently replied to the Lower Thames Crossing consultation (below), and you can too! You only have until the 20th December 2018 so don’t hesitate to fill in the consultation and have your say.
Medway Labour Group Response to Lower Thames Crossing Consultation
Medway Labour Group welcomes the public consultations that have taken place concerning the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC), and encourage the continuation of this approach as this project develops.
We are aware that the LTC will affect the London and Essex areas, but as opposition on Medway Council we are focused on the impact these plans will have on Kent, and more specifically Medway, residents.
The updated proposals for the LTC increase the width of the carriageway from two lanes to three lanes in each direction, which is projected to alleviate congestion at Dartford for up to 15 years. While the proposed crossing is a necessary short-term solution to tackle chronic congestion on both sides of the Thames, we are concerned that this is not a long-term, sustainable solution for the Thames Gateway’s transport infrastructure. The proposed scheme must therefore be accompanied by significant and urgent investment in integrated and affordable public transport networks which are community-led. Without investment in alternative modes of transport, traffic congestion and air quality will continue to get worse across the region.
The proposed LTC will also increase pressure on the existing local road infrastructure in Medway and other parts of Kent. In particular, the A229 Blue Bell Hill – which connects Junction 3 of the M2 with Junction 6 of the M20 – already suffers from significant congestion problems, which will be exacerbated by the construction of the LTC. We understand that traffic modelling undertaken by Highways England is only forecasting a 3-5 % increase in traffic flows on Blue Bell Hill as a direct result of the LTC being constructed. We would question the validity and accuracy of this modelling. Moreover, these projected increases do not take into account rising traffic volumes as a result of additional homes being built and jobs being created in the surrounding area.
There is a necessity for contingency planning during the construction phase around the potential impact of Brexit on capacity and traffic flow.
Increasing capacity at Junction 3 of the M2, Junction 6 of the M20 and on the connecting section of the A229 must therefore be an urgent funding priority for the 2020-2025 Road Investment Strategy funding period (“RIS 2”).
The latest design increases the length of the tunnel, which means that the tunnel entrance is now further south. The road will now also be cut deeper into the landscape to reduce both the visual impact of the scheme and the noise impact of the traffic using the LTC. While these changes are welcome, we would support consideration of additional measures to further reduce the environmental impact of the scheme on surrounding communities, who will still be significantly impacted by the LTC.
The proposal for 600 charging points for electric vehicles along the scheme’s route is welcome.
If a charge is introduced for using the Lower Thames Crossing, we would support the introduction of a discount scheme for all of Medway’s residents.
Construction Phase – Employment Opportunities
We note that up to 5,000 staff will be working on site at any one time during the construction phase. This will provide employment significant opportunities for Medway’s residents and we would therefore like the project to promote the use of local labour. Hiring local people for construction work and providing apprenticeship opportunities for Medway’s young people will support the local economy, develop skills and help reduce the skills gap.
We are pleased to take part in this process, and are glad of your receptiveness. As a matter of public interest to the residents we represent, Medway Labour Group will be placing this submission in the public domain. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further comment on the content of this document.
What do you think of our consultation response? Have your say below.