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Swale Borough Council formally objects to proposed Lower Thames Crossing

Monday 17 December

Swale Borough Council formally objects to proposed Lower Thames Crossing

Swale Borough Council has formally objected to the proposed Lower Thames Crossing.

Responding to Highways England’s statutory consultation on the government’s preferred route, leader of the council, Cllr Andrew Bowles, highlighted the impact the proposals would have on the already strained road network.

Highways England’s own modelling shows the crossing would shift significant amounts of traffic onto the A2/M2 corridor towards Dover. This motorway only has two lanes from junction 4 to 7 and junctions 5 and 7 are already over capacity. 

Even without the Lower Thames Crossing, the existing traffic issues are acting as a barrier to the council delivering Government-imposed housing targets. The current modelling doesn’t take into account the expected increase in housing targets that many authorities in Kent are now facing.

Cllr Bowles said:

“We are being squeezed between a rock and a hard place by the government – on the one hand they are about to increase the already difficult housing targets by 35% to around 1,050 a year. On the other, Highways England is opposing already committed housing developments because of the impact on the road network.

“We’ve had the prospect of investment dangled in front of us, but it’s just words with no sign of anything tangible happening.

“The much-needed improvements to junction 5 don’t have full funding, there is no clarity over critical improvements to junction 7, and there remains a level of uncertainty about upgrading key junctions on the A249, despite our efforts to bid for Government money.”

“Willingness and vague assurances only go so far – we need to see solid commitment to improve the highways infrastructure to cope with the pressure being put on it by the government’s lack of coherent housing policy.

“Local people find it hard enough to stomach the increase in housing we are being told to deliver, and the resultant congestion on the borough’s roads.

“Unless there are explicit assurances from the government that they will take action to address the wide ranging negative impacts, we simply cannot support a scheme that would make that worse.”

The consultation on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing runs until 20 December.

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