Local communities, landscapes and the environment

Closed 20 Dec 2018

Opened 10 Oct 2018


We are designing much more than roads and a tunnel. We are considering how everyone will see, hear, feel and respond to the Lower Thames Crossing. This includes local communities, people who will use the crossing and other road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

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Talking with the people who will use the route to better understand their needs and concerns is central to our plans. We are working closely with residents, community groups, businesses, local authorities and other organisations to make sure we develop the right proposal for the crossing during construction and after. This includes making sure we:

  • limit negative health and environmental effects – including air quality, noise levels and protecting areas of open space
  • improve access to jobs, schools and healthcare facilities
  • assess how communities and road users will be affected, for example how the works may change travel routes
  • investigate how walkers, cyclists and horse riders will be affected
  • do not discriminate against anyone and minimise disadvantages to communities affected by the route

We are also working with the Institute of Transport Studies at Leeds University – a globally respected academic facility and one of the UK’s leading centres for teaching and research in transport. The teams there are offering us independent advice on transport studies and how we assess community impacts.

The Lower Thames Crossing will improve access to jobs, schools and healthcare

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.

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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.

Have your say

To comment on the development boundary, answer question 7 in the response form.

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

Find out more

To look at the development boundary and the land affected, see Map Book 1 and Map Book 2.

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.

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We will keep disruption to rights of a way to a minimum during construction

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.

Have your say

To comment on rights of way for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, answer question 5 in the response form.

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.

We will work in partnership with others to explore how we can improve local connections

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.

Find out more

To find out more about how walking, cycling and horse riding routes are affected, see Map Book 1.


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.

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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.

A number of green bridges are being considered

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.

Did you know? A green bridge is designed to carry a road or public right of way that has landscaped features added to improve its appearance and to maintain or link habitats.

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


Protecting the environment

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.

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We are carrying out surveys to understand the wildlife in the local area

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.

Find out more

As part of our consultation we have produced a Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR) and a summary to help people understand the effects of the proposed development.

Managing the environmental impacts

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.

Air quality

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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

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

Have your say

To comment on the environmental aspects of the project, answer question 6 in the response form.

Noise and vibration

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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

Cultural heritage

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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

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


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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

Biodiversity on land

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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

Marine biodiversity

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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

  • 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.
  • No likely significant effects are anticipated.
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.
  • 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.

Water environment

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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • To 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.

Geology and soils

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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

Materials and waste

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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

  • 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.
  • No likely significant effects are anticipated.
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.
  • To limit the carbon footprint of the project.
  • To reduce construction traffic movements, and therefore vehicle emissions.

People and communities

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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

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


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Aspect of the environment Expected effects What we are doing and why

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.

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

Continue to the next section: Section 7: Building the crossing

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