Ancient woods and trees threatened by Lower Thames Crossing
Important woods, trees and wildlife are at risk from Highways England proposals to build a new tunnel linking Essex and Kent under the River Thames.
Credit: Greg Hitchcock / WTML
We’ve been campaigning against proposals for a new tunnel linking Essex and Kent under the River Thames since 2016. Over 10,000 of you shared our concerns and joined our previous three campaigns on this scheme.
We’re still waiting to find out the full extent of the scheme’s impact on irreplaceable ancient woods and veteran trees. We expect that 12 ancient woods and 15 veteran trees are within or close to the development boundary. It’s high time that Highways England gave an honest appraisal of how much irreplaceable habitat could be damaged or destroyed by this project. It needs to commit to solutions that would save further areas of ancient woodland.
Many of the woods at risk form part of the large Shorne and Ashenbank ancient woodland complex. These areas of woodland are particularly valuable for their rare wildlife, including woodpeckers, great crested newts and dormice, and are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
The Lower Thames Crossing project team has held numerous meetings with environmental groups over the years. We believe its members are listening to us. Thanks to objections raised by our supporters, potential plans for a gas mains pipeline to be routed through our ancient Ashenbank Wood site are no longer on the table. But the level of damage and loss to ancient woodland remains unacceptable.
A number of consultations have already taken place. There will be another opportunity to tell Highways England not to damage irreplaceable ancient woodland when it launches its next public consultation later in 2021.
We understand that Highways England is now preparing for re-submission of its Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate later in 2021.