Lower Thames Crossing: Protesters oppose Gravesend and Tilbury plan

Image caption About 500 people protested against Highways England's proposed route, organisers said.

Hundreds of people gathered in Gravesend on Saturday to oppose Highways England's preferred plan for a lower Thames crossing.

The agency is carrying out a public consultation on "Option C" which would connect Tilbury to Gravesend by tunnel.

It believes this route offers the best economic benefits and the greatest improvement in journey times.

But protesters say the consultation is "flawed" and another crossing at Dartford is a better solution.

The protest outside Gravesham Civic Centre was arranged by Bob Lane of Abridge2far, which opposes any form of the Option C proposals.

He urged the public not to rely on the "sketchy and incomplete" consultation booklet before making a decision.

'Terrible bombshell'

Image copyright Highways England

The proposed road would run from the M2 to the M25 in Essex, tunnelling under the Thames east of Gravesend.

Highways England is recommending "Option C" over "Option A", which would have seen a new crossing at Dartford.

After the protest, Shorne villager John Dick said: "The people of Gravesham have clearly shown their disgust at the decision of Highways England to recommend Option C.

"Highways England has dropped the most terrible bombshell on the people, the environment and the future health of the village."

Clare Waller, an occupational nurse and school governor, spoke of her concern about "unacceptably high levels of pollution" especially as "the route passes very near Shorne Primary School" and said the road would "will cause devastation to the environment and landscape".

Shorne villager Ray Seaburgh said: "Ordinary people are being asked to make life-changing decisions of monumental importance based on hundreds of pages of biased and inaccurate documents in a time frame which is wholly inadequate."

Gravesham councillor John Cubitt said: "My real concern is that Dartford plays no part in the consultation. [It] does not give the public the option."

However, Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, has warned "substantive evidence" suggests that building at Dartford would be a "massive mistake".

Councillor Jeremy Kite of Dartford Borough Council said: "However many people turn up [to protest] it will only be a fraction of the number of people who get trapped in crossing difficulties at Dartford almost every day.

"The Highways England information is unequivocal - you cannot solve the problem at Dartford."

Image copyright Highways Agency
Image caption The proposed tunnel would run under the River Thames from Tilbury to Gravesend

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