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During the design and build of The Lower Thames Crossing the project will undertake; ground investigations, surveys, and the acquisition of land and property at locations throughout North Kent and Essex to help us to improve our proposals and to develop our application for the Development Consent Order.

Property and Landowners

We are already talking with landowners and occupiers affected by the Lower Thames Crossing and we will continue to work closely with them. We understand that if you live in the area, you will have concerns about how the project may affect you – and we will provide all the help and support we can.

While significant areas of land are required for the scheme, we are seeking to reduce the impact on landowners. We are talking to landowners at every stage to understand their specific concerns.

We have set out a development boundary, pictured opposite, that outlines the extent of the land we may need. Since the preferred route was announced in April 2017, we have contacted people whose land or property we believe is within the boundary. Our dedicated team is working with them to explain the proposals and rights they may have.

Within this boundary, some of the land along the route of the new road will be needed permanently and other areas, such as construction sites or land needed to divert utilities including power lines or gas pipes, may only be needed temporarily.

When work is complete, any land that is not needed permanently or for environmental purposes will be returned to its previous use wherever possible.

There is more information about the compulsory purchase process and when compensation may be available in the Highways England publications listed below. If you are not able to access them online, get in touch using the contact details at the end of this guide and we will send you the information.

Your Property and Blight
Information for property owners within the development boundary

Your Property and Discretionary Purchase
Information for those who live outside the development boundary but may need to sell their property

Your Property and Compulsory Purchase
How compulsory purchase works

Environment

Our countryside is home to some amazing plants, animals and habitats, and many of them are protected by law. Knowing exactly where they are is vital to making sure we protect them. We are carrying out detailed surveys to understand wildlife populations and movements, to identify how best to avoid or reduce effects on the protected areas, riverside marshes and the river bed. The preferred route and the choice of a bored tunnel was carefully chosen to minimise the impact on these special areas. For more information on ecology surveys, view our fact sheet.

We are carrying out detailed air quality assessments and more detailed noise modelling. We will develop solutions, where appropriate, to reduce the effects of traffic noise such as using low noise road surfaces or keeping the road as low as possible within the landscape to use natural screening and cuttings.

Over the coming months we’ll also be carrying out surveys to find out about the ground conditions, the archaeology and the topography of the area. You might see some of our survey team or our equipment when you’re out and about in the area. We carry out surveys in lots of different ways from walking across the land and looking for animals, taking water samples, drilling bore holes or digging trenches to look at the ground or even using a helicopter or a drone to map the contours of the land. Our surveys will continue over the next two years to make sure we have as much information as possible to help us make the right decisions about the design of the crossing.

We have also now submitted the Environmental Scoping Report to the Planning Inspectorate as part of the Development Consent Order pre-application process.

We want to develop a project that respects, and responds to, its local context and history. We are carefully designing the landscape along the route, including the structures we intend to build such as bridges, viaducts, buildings and a proposed rest and service area.

Structures along the route will be designed to blend in with local surroundings as sympathetically as possible. A number of green bridges are being considered with features such as timber barriers and bollards, gravel, coppice woodland, ground cover planting and shrubs. We will also keep the road as low as possible within the landscape and use natural screening.

We will use landscaping, embankments and noise barriers to reduce noise pollution, and we will relocate some wildlife and create new habitats for protected species before we start construction works that would affect them.

Once we have analysed all the feedback from this consultation, we will put together an Environmental Statement that assesses the likely significant environmental effects of the project, drawing on consultation responses and further survey and design work. This will support our DCO application.

Landscape areas explained

  • Ramsar site Ramsar siteA wetland of international importance.
  • Site of Special Scientific Interest Site of Special Scientific InterestProvides statutory protection for the best examples of the UK’s flora, fauna or geological or physiographical features.
  • Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Area of Outstanding Natural BeautyTo conserve areas of natural beauty – which includes wildlife features, cultural heritage, landscape and scenery.

The changing landscape

We have divided the route into eight sections to show the changing landscape along the proposed route. (Hover over the image below for more information.)

Our countryside is home to many plants, animals and habitats, and several of them are protected by law. Knowing exactly where these species are is vital to making sure we can protect them and their habitats. We are carrying out detailed surveys already to understand wildlife populations and movements, and identify how best to avoid or reduce effects on protected areas, riverside marshes and the river bed.

We are carrying out surveys in lots of different ways, from walking across the land and looking for animals to taking water samples, drilling bore holes and digging trenches to look at the ground. We are even using a helicopter and drones to map the contours of the land.

Our landscape, air quality and noise assessments will also help us to understand and minimise potential effects on people. This includes reducing the effects of traffic noise such as using low noise road surfaces or keeping the road as low as possible within the landscape and using natural screening and cuttings.

Our surveys will continue to make sure we have as much information as possible to help us make the right decisions about the design of the crossing.

We have produced a Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR) and a summary to help people understand the effects of the proposed development.

We are carrying out an Environmental Impact Assessment to consider the effects of the proposed route, and to meet planning policy and legislation requirements. Our findings are set out in the Preliminary Environmental Information Report, and summarised below.

Aspect of the environment

Clean air is an essential ingredient for a good quality of life. The government is committed to meeting health-based air quality criteria for human health and for the protection of vegetation and ecosystems.

There are several locations that currently exceed UK Air Quality Strategy objectives in the area around the proposed route. We must demonstrate that the project would not impact on the UK’s ability to comply with the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Temporary adverse effects related to dust and exhaust emissions impacting residential properties, schools, hospitals, ecological designated sites and other sensitive locations within 200m of the roads affected by the project.

Operation

  • Beneficial effects on air quality in the Dartford Air Quality Management Area, around the approach to the Dartford Crossing.
  • Adverse effects on air quality experienced in other areas, although these are unlikely to cause air quality to exceed UK Air Quality Strategy objectives. The project is also unlikely to affect compliance with the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • We are continuing to assess the impact of the project on air quality, both during and after construction.
  • We have identified potential measures to control and minimise construction dust such as maintaining all dust control equipment in good condition, using waste water for dust suppression, and cover seed or fence stockpiles.

Why

  • To understand the full effect of the project, including any likely improvements to air quality.
  • To reduce any adverse effects of construction.

Aspect of the environment

The route will pass close to populated areas, and rural areas with outlying
dwellings.

There are 26 Noise Important Areas within the study area. These
are areas capturing the top 1% of the population that are affected by the
highest noise levels from major roads in England.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Temporary adverse noise impacts from activities such as using construction machinery, tunnelling activities, temporary road closures and diversions, and site deliveries.
  • Temporary adverse vibration effects from piling activities and the
    tunnel boring machines.

Operation

  • Permanent adverse effects experienced as short-term and long-term perceptible changes in road traffic noise levels.
  • Permanent localised adverse effects associated with the tunnel
    ventilation system.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • We are continuing to assess the impact on noise levels and vibration, both during and after construction.
  • We will use best practice during construction to make sure we minimise any noise impacts, such as the careful location of our sites.
  • We will identify additional measures to control and reduce noise levels
    during construction where appropriate, such as using noise barriers. We will
    identify locations where measures such as noise barriers and low noise
    surfacing can reduce traffic noise levels once the new road is open.
  • We will identify appropriate measures to control noise from the tunnel
    ventilation system, using intelligent design and modern technology.

Why

  • To understand the full effect of the project
    on noise and vibration.
  • Where possible to reduce adverse noise and
    vibration during construction.
  • To mitigate potential increases in levels of traffic noise caused by the
    project at sensitive locations such as residential properties, hospitals,
    care homes and schools.
  • To ensure the road and tunnel are operated and maintained in a
    considerate manner for communities.

Aspect of the environment

Cultural heritage influences how people relate to places and cultures, and
can provide a sense of place and stability to a community.

The study area
holds a rich variety of heritage assets, including 17 scheduled monuments, 229
listed buildings, 14 conservation areas, two registered parks and gardens, as
well as buried archaeology.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Permanent adverse effects to buried
    archaeological, Palaeolithic and palaeoenvironmental remains, and geological
    deposits owing to physical damage, removal, compaction, or changes to
    groundwater levels. The Orsett Crop Mark Complex scheduled monument will
    mostly be removed.
  • Permanent adverse effects through the demolition of two listed buildings
    and activities within a registered park and garden.
  • Temporary adverse effects on the setting of heritage assets, including
    conservation areas, listed buildings and registered parks and gardens owing
    to the removal of vegetation screens, introducing new structures and
    movement of construction vehicles.

Operation

  • Permanent adverse effects on heritage
    assets as a result of the new road, other structures and vehicles.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • We are continuing our
    assessment work to develop a comprehensive picture of the archaeology and
    cultural heritage of the area by carrying out surveys and investigations
    before construction starts.
  • We have collected detailed records of any unknown archaeological remains
    that are uncovered during construction.
  • We have identified how we will limit the likely effects on the setting
    of heritage assets such as screening vegetation and careful earthworks
    design.
  • Where appropriate, bridges will be designed to take into account local
    landscape character and features.

Why

  • To avoid or reduce any impacts, where
    possible, on conservation areas, listed buildings, monuments, archaeological
    remains, and registered parks and gardens.
  • To deal sensitively with unknown archaeological remains that may be
    uncovered during construction.

Aspect of the environment

We recognise the importance of the landscape, not just in terms of its
scenery or backdrop, but because it links culture with nature, and past with
present.

The Lower Thames Crossing will pass through a variety of
landscapes including the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, green
belt land, four National Character Areas and through or near to 23 local
authority local character areas.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Temporary adverse impact on
    landscape character and tranquillity along the entire route, but most
    notably in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, along the A2
    corridor, Tilbury Marshes and Orsett Fen.
  • Temporary adverse visual effects for residential properties, visitors to
    heritage assets, and users of public rights of way, paths, the national
    cycle route network and other recreational land.

Operation

  • Permanent adverse effects on landscape
    character, tranquillity and visual impact owing to the presence of the new
    road and resulting traffic.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • We have lowered the road where
    possible to avoid the visual impacts for local communities.
  • We have worked into our plans design elements such as mounds, hills,
    trees and shrubs to help screen the road and vehicles from nearby properties
    and footpaths.
  • We are considering upgraded bridge structures (green and architectural)
    to blend into the existing landscape.
  • We are proposing using tunnel entrances and service buildings that
    reflect the local landscape/townscape and character of the area.
  • We will plan the location and layout of construction sites, access
    routes and associated night-time lighting to minimise impacts on nearby
    properties and footpaths.

Why

  • To mitigate potential impacts on views and
    landscape character features, both during and after construction.
  • To maximise the opportunities to integrate the route with the landscape.

Aspect of the environment

The conservation of biodiversity is important to maintain populations of the
country’s characteristic fauna and flora.

There are several statutory
internationally and nationally designated sites within the study area, as well
as local nature reserves, local wildlife sites and ancient woodland areas.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Temporary adverse effects relating
    to habitat loss cause by site clearance and land take, noise, lighting,
    movements of construction vehicles, water or air pollution, contamination of
    soils, and tunnelling.
  • Temporary adverse effects on the functioning of the Special Protection
    Areas and Ramsar site owing to changes in the water regime.

Operation

  • Permanent adverse effects on
    biodiversity on land from noise and visual disturbance from traffic and
    street lighting, pollution from surface water run-off and accidental
    spillages, changes in air quality and fragmentation of foraging habitat and
    key flight lines for species.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • We are carrying out ecological
    surveys to fully understand where important flora and fauna are – and how
    they might be affected by the project.
  • We will relocate protected species, where necessary, to other sites
    before we start construction in that area.
  • We are continuing to work with relevant environmental and conservation
    organisations, and local authorities, to create new habitats as needed.
  • We have incorporated infrastructure, such as fencing and planting, to
    connect habitats either side of the route and to guide animals under, over
    and away from the road where possible.

Why

  • To avoid or reduce the impact of the project
    on important habitats and protected species such as great crested newts,
    bats, water voles, reptiles, badgers and birds.

Aspect of the environment

The Thames Estuary is a significant biodiversity asset, and there are several
designated ecological sites with marine components that could be affected by the
project.

The estuary has areas of intertidal mudflat, sandflats and
saltmarsh that provide key foraging, breeding and nursery habitat for
invertebrates and numerous species of fish. These, in turn, support important
bird and mammal populations, including seals and porpoises.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Potential temporary adverse effects
    relating to the loss of habitat supporting designated sites such as the
    Thames Estuary and Marshes SPA and Ramsar site during construction,
    operation and demolition of a potential jetty.
  • Temporary adverse effects from dredging to the way water moves and
    changes the environment around it, potentially leading to the loss of
    habitat or disturbance of species.
  • Temporary adverse effects on water quality, which would then have an
    effect on migratory and resident fish species.
  • Temporary adverse effects relating to underwater noise, which would have
    an effect on marine mammals and fish.
  • Temporary adverse effects relating to lighting, which would have an
    effect on marine mammals and fish.

Operation

  • No likely significant effects are
    anticipated.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • We have moved the southern
    entrance of the tunnel approximately 600 metres south, which reduces the
    impact on the adjacent Ramsar site.
  • We will continue to carry out marine ecological surveys to fully
    understand the presence and distribution of habitats and species, as we may
    need to build a temporary jetty in the Thames Estuary for the delivery or
    removal of construction material when we begin work on the tunnel.
  • We are using the huge amount of existing data to help us determine the
    potential effects of our work. We will minimise these impacts as much as
    possible.
  • Noise and vibration limits will be set to minimise impacts on marine
    mammals and fish.

Why

  • To minimise the impact of the project on the
    mudflat habitat at the proposed location of the jetty, which houses many
    species. The area is also a migratory route for important fish species such
    as the European eel.

Aspect of the environment

The government is committed to maintaining and, where justified, improving
the quality of UK drinking water, surface waters, groundwater and coastal
waters.

The main surface water features in the Lower Thames Crossing area
are the River Thames, watercourses draining through the ecologically designated
sites adjacent to the Thames, the Mardyke and its tributaries, and the Tilbury
Main and other watercourses which drain West and East Tilbury Marshes.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Adverse effects associated with the
    pollution and degradation of watercourses and groundwater owing to
    spillages, handling and storage of materials and waste or mobilisation of
    sediments.
  • Resultant adverse effects on ecologically designated sites including the
    Thames Estuary and Marshes Ramsar site and the South Thames Estuary and
    Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest.
  • Adverse effects on wells and boreholes such as the permitted drinking
    water supply at Linford and unlicensed or private sources of water supply.
  • Adverse effects owing to an increased demand for water, which would
    lower river or groundwater levels.
  • Adverse effects associated with the temporary loss of flood plain
    storage in the Thames Estuary tidal flood plain and the Mardyke river flood
    plain.

Operation

  • Permanent adverse changes in
    groundwater levels, flow and pollution.
  • Permanent adverse effects on water quality in water bodies that receive
    runoff from the new road.
  • Adverse effects on flood risk owing to works within the flood plain and
    new watercourse crossings.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • We have designed appropriate
    drainage systems along the road to store and control run-off.
  • We will incorporate good practice pollution prevention measures in line
    with relevant legal requirements to reduce the risk of water pollution
    during construction.
  • We are proposing to increase the floodplain in some areas to compensate
    for the lost floodplain as a result of the project.

Why

  • TTo prevent negative impact on water quality
    during construction.
  • To prevent the project causing any increased flood risk.
  • To help slow the flow of surface water from the road to .the surrounding
    environment, and prevent silt pollutants flowing into nearby water channels,
    such as brooks, rivers and streams.

Aspect of the environment

The government is committed to maintaining and protecting geology and soils
receptors and, when possible, improving the quality by cleansing contaminated
sites.

The Lower Thames Crossing route crosses areas of gravels, clays,
sands and alluvium that sit on a bedrock of White Chalk to the south of the
river with London Clay to the north.

Certain types of soil, left behind on areas previously used for industry,
developments and historic landfill sites, are present across areas of the
project. There are also active landfill sites within the study area.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Permanent adverse effects associated
    with the loss of geological resources.
  • Permanent adverse effects relating to the contamination of soils, ground
    and surface waters. This has a risk to human health owing to the disturbance
    of contaminated land during activities such as piling, or spillages of oil
    or other substances.
  • Temporary adverse risk to construction activities from ground
    instability, areas of soft ground, sink holes or other geohazards.
  • Temporary adverse effects relating to the risk of disturbance of
    unexploded military ammunition.
  • Temporary adverse effects relating to the potential migration of ground
    gases from landfill sites and buildup in confined spaces.

Operation

  • Permanent adverse effects from the
    migration of ground gases into service ducts or other structures.
  • Permanent adverse effects associated with the sterilisation of minerals
    within safeguarded areas.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • We are continuing to assess
    whether we can use minerals from safeguarded and other suitable areas.
  • We are carrying out investigations to identify contaminated land and
    unexploded military ammunition.
  • Appropriate working methods and personal protective equipment will be
    used and good site hygiene adopted to reduce the risk of exposure to
    contaminated materials.
  • We will develop a soil management plan.
  • We will reduce the risk of contamination and settlement through careful
    design and monitoring.
  • The design and maintenance regime will take into consideration ground
    gas conditions and be adapted to avoid migration of gases.

Why

  • To prevent harm to people and the environment
    from contaminated land.
  • To avoid or reduce loss, damage and contamination of soil, which is a
    valuable resource.

Aspect of the environment

The materials required for construction include metals, aggregate, pavement,
concrete and soils. Most materials will need to be purchased and transported to
the site.

Some materials may be available on site, for example soils that
will be excavated during the project may be suitable to reuse elsewhere.

Many of the materials required are finite resources. Use of these resources
therefore needs to be minimised where possible, and sustainable sources of
material need to be considered. Materials will be sourced locally where
available.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Permanent adverse effects relating
    to the depletion of material resources for the construction of the project.
  • Temporary adverse effects on the local waste management infrastructure
    owing to the disposal or recovery of construction phase wastes.
  • Temporary adverse effects relating to road congestion, air quality and
    noise owing to the transfer of materials and waste.

Operation

  • No likely significant effects are
    anticipated.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • We have identified potential
    measures to keep the use of materials and waste production to a minimum.
  • We are exploring options to reuse excavated soil and other resources
    onsite where possible, and recycle materials such as timber offcuts that
    cannot be reused in the project.
  • We are considering alternative modes of transport, such as river barges,
    to move materials and waste to and from construction sites.
  • Where possible we will procure materials and resources in a sustainable
    manner to protect the environment.

Why

  • To limit the carbon footprint of the project.
  • To reduce construction traffic movements, and therefore vehicle
    emissions.

Aspect of the environment

We need to consider the impact of the project on people in their daily lives,
for example where they live and work, services they use, places they visit, and
the connections between these places.

The Lower Thames Crossing will pass
close to residential properties, businesses, public rights of way and other
access routes, open access land and other amenity and recreation areas.

Agricultural land and farm businesses are present across the development
boundary. The route will pass through, or near to, rural and urban areas, with a
mixture of highly populated areas and areas with a sparser population.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Temporary adverse effects owing to
    land take from businesses or private landowners, including land allocated
    for development, community open space and sports and leisure spaces.
  • Permanent adverse effects owing to the demolition of certain commercial
    and residential properties within the development boundary.
  • Temporary adverse effects owing to changes in access to commercial and
    residential properties, including disruption to agricultural business
    operations.
  • Temporary adverse effects from diversions to public rights of way, cycle
    routes and national trails.
  • Temporary adverse effects associated with changes to the noise, air
    quality and visual impacts for people living in or visiting the area.
  • Temporary beneficial effects on the local and wider economy through job
    creation and demand for goods and services.

Operation

  • Permanent and temporary adverse effects
    associated with land take.
  • Beneficial effects associated with improved access to jobs.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • Where possible, we have
    provided alternative routes and crossing points for pedestrians, cyclists
    and horse riders when rights of way are affected, such as footbridges or
    underpasses.
  • Where possible, we will restore land that is needed temporarily for
    construction to its previous use.
  • Where possible, we are proposing to maintain uninterrupted access to
    public and private properties, such as community facilities, homes,
    businesses and agricultural land.
  • We are exploring options where appropriate to provide a number of
    structures for all users that may bring environmental benefits for
    communities and biodiversity.

Why

  • To avoid or reduce diversions or severance of
    public rights of way and other routes and enable continued access.
  • To mitigate the potential impact of the project on access to, or use of,
    community facilities, as well as on local homes, businesses, potential
    developments and agricultural land.

Aspect of the environment

It is predicted that climate will increase the frequency and severity of some
types of extreme weather events in England.

The UK Climate Projections 2009 generally show that warmer, drier summers are
more likely along with warmer, wetter winters.

Expected effects

Construction

  • Permanent adverse effects are likely
    owing to the project’s contribution towards greenhouse gas emissions and
    therefore climate change.

Operation

  • Permanent adverse effects are expected
    due to the greenhouse gas emissions from road user vehicle emissions.
  • Adverse effects may arise owing to the impact climate change may have on
    some of the project’s structures due to increased rainfall. This could
    result in: flooding or ground movement; increased stress on bridge joints
    caused by higher temperatures; flooded drains; collapsed culverts;
    contaminated water; and the need for road or tunnel closures owing to heavy
    rain or flooding; or collapsed earth embankments due to heavy rain.

What we are doing and why

What we are doing

  • We have identified measures to
    reduce the project’s greenhouse gas emissions such as considering the
    specification of materials with an optimum design life and lower carbon
    footprint. This could include using recycled materials or materials sourced
    from nearer to the site to minimise transportation movements.
  • We have identified measures to help the project adapt to climate change,
    for example incorporating climate change allowances within the drainage
    design and introducing flood bunds around the north tunnel entrance.

Why

  • To ensure that the project will be able to
    adapt to climate change and avoid any further environmental impacts
    resulting from future climate change.
  • To reduce the project’s impact on climate change.

Walkers, Cyclists and Horse riders

The Lower Thames Crossing is a motorway and will have the same restrictions, which means walkers, cyclists and horse riders will not be allowed to use the tunnel or road.
If footpaths, bridleways and cycle paths along the route are affected by the Lower Thames Crossing, we will reinstate them where practicable when construction is complete to ensure people continue to enjoy access to the landscape. Throughout the design process we will look to improve and enhance these routes as we consider how they will be affected.

During construction, we will keep disruption to public rights of way used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders to a minimum, by limiting full route closures and providing alternative routes. Wherever a right of way is affected, we will provide a nearby alternative.

Throughout the project, we will work in partnership with local authorities and community interest groups to explore how we can improve accessibility and local connections.