The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is understandably taking up most people’s attention. Highways England, the government agency charged with ramming the Lower Thames Crossing through Thurrock, have cynically used this as an excuse to continue to ride roughshod over the views of locals and carry on being its normal, unaccountable self. This is how it’s being covered in the local media: Call to hold Thames Crossing agency and contractors to account as they continue to ride roughshod over local opinion and ignore protocols.

The classic has to be one of the Highways England contractors, Skanska, retrospectively applying for planning permission for a site base at a former Lakeside overspill car park in North Stifford a year after they started using it! The Thames Crossing Action Group are asking people to send in their objections to this retrospective application. Full details of the application and how to object can be found here: Retrospective planning application for LTC compound.

Let’s put this in a bit of context… This isn’t a one off example of bad practice by a contractor working for a government agency, local authority or any so called ‘re-generation’ partnership. It seems to be pretty much the norm that these contractors think they’re not accountable to the communities they operate in. This is what we recently posted up about the demolition contractor Squibb, who’ve been working on the demolition and site preparation at East Square and East Walk in Basildon prior to the construction of a cinema complex: And so it goes on…

Taking a step back, the COVID-19 crisis has stuffed the world economy and it looks like an economic depression is on the cards – one that will last for many years. What kind of society and economy will emerge from that is difficult to predict. Suffice to say, it’s highly unlikely we’ll be going back to anything remotely resembling the ‘normal’ we had before the crisis hit.

That means the traffic projections Highways England used to justify pushing this scheme through aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. If the traffic projections are worthless, what is the rationale for carrying on with the Lower Thames Crossing? As far as we and doubtless many other people are concerned, there isn’t any rationale and the best thing that could happen would be for this scheme to be swiftly consigned to the dustbin of history.