Ancient woods and trees threatened by Lower Thames Crossing
Important woods, trees and wildlife are at risk from National Highways 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. Some progress has been made, but ancient woods and veteran trees remain threatened by the road scheme.
What’s the problem?
Many of the woods threatened by the Lower Thames Crossing form part of the large Shorne and Ashenbank ancient woodland complex. These woods, including our own Ashenbank Wood, are part of a significant historical landscape, rich in archaeology and cultural importance. They are home to rare wildlife, including woodpeckers, great crested newts and dormice, and are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Nationally notable invertebrates also live here, along with over 300 species of fungi.
The loss of irreplaceable habitats like these is unacceptable. To make matters worse, we’re still waiting to find out just how much the scheme will impact our natural environment. As in previous consultations, National Highways (formerly Highways England) has not disclosed details of which environmental features will be affected. We understand it is waiting until it submits a new Development Consent Order (DCO) - an application to undertake a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project - to reveal the extent of this appalling damage. Hiding these impacts from the public while consulting on the proposals is unacceptable.
We know ancient woodland is going to suffer. Our own assessments indicate several hectares would be lost. A previous consultation clarified that the scheme would also destroy 10 veteran trees, though their locations remain unclear.
It’s also time National Highways came clean on the carbon emissions associated with this scheme. Right now, the Lower Thames Crossing is likely to be the most damaging road scheme in England when it comes to ancient woods and veteran trees and carbon emissions. National Highways has provided some detail around nitrogen deposition, though the information is inadequate. The public needs to understand the implications of these pollutants and emissions.
A number of consultations have already taken place. The latest closed on 20 June 2022.
If you still hold concerns about the environmental impact of the scheme, please contact your local councillor and MP, and consider highlighting your concerns to National Highways directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over 10,000 of you shared our concerns and joined our previous four campaigns on this scheme. Thank you to all of you. Thanks to objections raised by our supporters, potential plans for a gas mains pipeline through our Ashenbank Wood are no longer on the table.