Towards the end of last year, we wrote three posts on the Lower Thames River Crossing and the fact that Highways England had to withdraw their application to the Planning Inspectorate for a Development Consent Order:
It’s not a done deal– December 6, 2020
A small victory and a possible glimmer of light?– November 21, 2020
Highways England jumping the gun– November 15, 2020
You would have thought that having to metaphorically go back to the drawing board would have made Highways England at least pause the tendering process for contractors to deliver the project. Well, despite still having to resubmit their application to the Planning Inspectorate, let alone be granted permission to proceed, it would appear that Highways England are carrying on with the tendering process: Highways England has issued its call for tenders for £1.9bn of new roads for the Lower Thames Crossing.
Highways England won’t be resubmitting their application until later on this year. Yet they think they can simply plough on with the tendering contracts regardless. Arrogant doesn’t even begin to describe their attitude.
We’ve said this before but feel obliged to say it again. The coronavirus crisis and the subsequent lockdowns and tiered restrictions has had a profound effect upon the economy. It has certainly changed the world of work with what looks like a permanent move towards more home working and a reduction in commuting. Even though there’s a ‘road map’ out of this, there’s going to be no going back to what we saw as normal before 2020 – too much has changed for that to even be able to happen.
The traffic projections Highways England are using to make their case for building the Lower Thames Crossing are out of date. At the very least, before chucking any more money down the pan on an environmentally destructive, they need to come up with completely new traffic projections that reflect the reality we’re now in.
As we’ve written before, it’s not a done deal. It’s still possible to apply enough pressure to get this poxy project called in for a proper view before it’s deservedly consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs.