Officers at Thurrock Council were originally led by Highways England to believe they had until January to submit their response to the latest plans for the Lower Thames Crossing. The council have now been informed that Highways England want to see their response by December 20th which is the day the consultation closes to the public. See here for the full story on Your Thurrock: Lower Thames Crossing: Consultation period set to be cut short.

Okay, we know that the Thurrock Council officers are involved in a deeply technical exercise, the outcome of which will most likely be suggestions for changes to the plans for the Lower Thames Crossing. It’s nowhere near questioning the need for the crossing to be built in the first place so, why are we who are fiercely opposed to it on environmental grounds getting exercised by the deadline for the council response being brought forward? It’s simply because it’s yet another example of the high handed arrogance of Highways England.

Highways England are an agency set up by the government to build roads. They’re ultimately answerable to the Secretary of State for Transport, the current holder of the role being Chris Grayling. Given that Grayling is a member of a government consumed by the farce that’s a botched Brexit and may well be feverishly planning to ensure that a no deal scenario doesn’t snarl up the motorways in Kent, he probably isn’t paying much attention to what Highways England are up to. Which effectively means that Highways England are a law unto themselves.

If Highways England can arbitrarily move the goalposts when it comes to the deadline for a response to their proposals, what kind of signal does that send out? It sends out the signal that they think they can do what the heck they want and get away with it. So, if that’s the case, why should anyone objecting to the environmental destruction that would be wrought by the Lower Thames Crossing carry on playing by the rules?

As we’ve stated a few times previously, apart from the bastards already putting in the compulsory purchase orders, there’s no physical manifestation of the crossing. It still only exists in the form of myriad computer files, ream upon ream of printed paper and as an ill conceived notion in the heads of Highways England and those who support them. If there’s a change of strategy and tactics, there’s still everything to play for.