Following submission of the planning application for the road project, which was planned after assessments, consultation, and engagement with stakeholders and communities, by National Highways on October 31, the Lower Thames Crossing has moved a step closer with the Planning Inspectorate accepting National Highway’s application for a Development Consent Order. The project received nearly 95,000 consultation responses.
In order to providing more information, the application that was originally submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in October 2020 was withdrawn.
While the probable time duration for planning process is almost18 months, including six months of examination, the determined time for commencing construction in case of granting the consent is 2024.
According to Lower Thames Crossing executive director Matt Palmer: “The Planning Inspectorate has accepted that our comprehensive program of consultation and design development has been undertaken properly, meaning our plans can now be taken forward for robust and thorough examination by independent, government-appointed experts.”
As the longest UK road tunnel, the twin-bore river crossing with 4.5km length and a diameter of over 16m, will be the widest tunnel in Europe. The location of over than 80 per cent of the route is due to be beneath ground or behind landscaped embankments. In order to decreasing the environmental impact on sensitive ecological landscapes such as the Thames Estuary and Marshes, a tunnel was chosen rather than a bridge.
The shortlist for tunnel and approaches contract with £2.3bn (US$3.08bn) value, was announced by National Highways in April 2021. The three companies are BFV JV comprising BAM Nuttal, Ferrovial Construction (UK) and Vinci Construction Grands Projets, supported by Atkins, Tecnica y Proyectos SA (TYPSA) and Stantec UK; Bouygues Murphy JV (BMJV) comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics and J Murphy & Sons, supported by Mott McDonald and Ove Arup and Partners; and Dragados-Hochtief JV (DHJV) comprising Dragados and Hochtief Infrastructure.
Considering exploration of ways to achieve carbon neutral construction, in February the Lower Thames Crossing was designated a carbon pathfinder project.