This may not be as bad as having to speed read a 500 page draft of a Brexit ‘deal’ before a critical Cabinet meeting but Highways England are certainly in the same league when it comes to their ‘consultation’ documentation on the Lower Thames Crossing which runs to thousands of pages: Angry Thurrock councillors slam ‘sheer size and complexity’ of Highways England Lower Thames Crossing consultation. The ‘consultation’ runs until Thursday 20th December.

From what we’ve read, Thurrock councillors council officers are struggling with the sheer amount of documentation from Highways England they have to read, analyse and respond to in a limited time frame. If the full time council officers who are tasked with responding to this are struggling, imagine what it’s like for us mere mortals who want to respond to the Highways England proposals but also have these pesky things called lives to deal with. Even the non-technical summary contains technical language and acronyms. The easy read version is only available on request. There is a 15 working day response time for e-mails. Basically, the dice are loaded against anyone hoping to make a meaningful response to the Highways England proposals.

The remit of the ‘consultation’ is about the technicalities of the route alignment, depth of cuttings and heights of any embankments, location of junctions and also any environmental amelioration and noise reduction measures that may be included in the proposals. There is absolutely no scope for any questioning of the need for the Lower Thames Crossing. Essentially, we’re being presented with a done deal. A done deal not just in terms of the road being imposed upon us but, given the complexity of the documentation people are obliged to wade through, it appears to be a done deal in terms of the technical aspects of the route planning.

However, as we’ve said a fair few times before, the Lower Thames Crossing only exists in the form of numerous computer files, a heck of a lot of paper, and as an idea in people’s heads. As we write, there are no physical manifestations of the approach roads or the tunnel. However, that hasn’t stopped Highways England from hitting people with Compulsory Purchase Orders and blight notices. See herefor more information on these. If the will is there for a radical change in tactics, it’s still possible to stop this unsustainable and largely unwanted proposal in its tracks.

The consultation is available at: Paper copies of all the consultation documents are also available at Grays Library and Tilbury Hub during normal opening hours.