THURROCK’S council leader is rallying fellow councillors to fight the “abysmal” new Lower Thames Crossing plans. 

Updated plans, released by Highways England yesterday, claim the crossing will double road capacity across the Thames. 

A new consultation has now been launched on the latest design improvements – running for ten weeks until December 20. 

New proposals include making the whole route a three-lane dual carriageway, a new rest and service area to the west of East Tilbury, a new design for the Tilbury junction and an improved junction with the A2 – but Thurrock’s council leader slammed the plans, insisting all councillors oppose them. 

Rob Gledhill, leader of Thurrock Council, has now urged his councillors to back his motion for a judicial review later this month.

He said: “All councillors remain unanimously opposed to the Lower Thames Crossing, as I have made abundantly clear on many occasions, and that position has not changed.

“Contrary to Highways England’s claims that the scheme will enable sustainable local development and strengthen and connect local communities, it will in fact just smash through greenbelt land, damage development opportunities and effectively cut the borough in half.

“There is a clear absence of any real connectivity improvements here, only the threat of a motorway and absolutely nothing that will benefit our residents as has been intimated by Highways England. 

“In fact, this proposal will have a completely unacceptable impact on Thurrock. Now we know the full extent of Highways England’s plans we will go to any lengths in fighting these abysmal proposals, and I will be calling on all councillors, irrespective of party, to back my motion at full council later this month to go to court for a judicial review.”

The 14.5-mile route connecting Gravesham in Kent and Thurrock in Essex is expected to reduce traffic at Dartford by 22 per cent with 14 million fewer vehicles using it every year.

MP Jackie Doyle-Price insisted she remains opposed to the route. 

She said “Whilst we need another crossing I remain opposed to this route. We were told last year that it would be a dual carriageway but we now see it is three lanes. 

“There is a good case for judicial review as the proposal is fundamentally changed from that announced by the Secretary of State. Given the limited connectivity to the local road network there is no reason for the route to be so close to residential communities. I also remain concerned about the design and appearance of the road and will be making formal representations.”

In order to reduce the impact on Chadwell St Mary residents, the road plan has been moved 80 metres further east to increase the distance from residential properties. 

The preferred route was announced last April after 47,000 comments were received. 

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are making the biggest investment in improving our roads since the 1970s, ensuring journeys are quicker and safer. The Lower Thames Crossing will help transform journeys, create new business opportunities in Kent and Essex and unlock productivity across the UK.

“It will also cut congestion at the Dartford Crossing and improve connectivity from our industrial heartland to our ports in the South East.”