Ancient woods and trees threatened by Lower Thames Crossing
Important woods, trees and wildlife remain at risk from National Highways proposals to build a new tunnel linking Essex and Kent under the River Thames.
Credit: Greg Hitchcock / WTML
Proposals for a new tunnel linking Essex and Kent under the River Thames have threatened ancient woods and veteran trees since 2016. We've spent years campaigning to show that the proposals are unacceptable.
Thank you for your unwavering support and dedication to protecting these precious habitats. Your commitment has been instrumental in raising awareness of the scheme's negative impacts on veteran trees, our own Ashenbank site, and the schemes carbon impacts.
What’s the problem?
Many of the woods threatened by the Lower Thames Crossing form part of the large Shorne and Ashenbank ancient woodland SSSI 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.
To make matters worse, National Highways (formerly Highways England) has withheld critical information throughout all its public consultations. It has failed to disclose exactly which environmental features will be affected.
National Highways submitted a new Development Consent Order (DCO) in autumn 2022 - an application to the Planning Inspectorate for approval to undertake a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. But it still hasn't revealed the extent of the appalling damage. This 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.
The loss of irreplaceable habitats like these is unacceptable. This is not what progress looks like, for nature or climate.
England’s most damaging road scheme
The impact on irreplaceable habitats and carbon emissions make the Lower Thames Crossing likely the most damaging current road scheme in England.
National Highways has provided some detail around air pollution, but it's not enough. It must come clean on the carbon emissions associated with the scheme. The public needs to understand the implications of these pollutants and emissions so that National Highways can be held to account.
Thank you for your support so far
Our campaigning against this devastating scheme continued throughout 2022 and thousands of you joined us in telling National Highways that the loss of ancient woods and veteran trees is unacceptable. Thank you.
- In May, 1,459 of you responded to the local refinement consultation through our campaign to explore how the project could be improved for local people.
- In October, over 12,000 of you signed our petition to condemn the impacts of the scheme as National Highways applied for Planning Inspectorate approval.
Over 23,000 of you share our concerns on impacts of this scheme and have joined our five campaigns since 2016. Thank you to all of you. Thanks to objections from our supporters, potential plans for a gas mains pipeline through ancient Ashenbank Wood are now off the table.
The fight continues
Progress doesn’t look like this. We'll keep fighting to stop the ecological damage this road scheme would cause. And we'll keep putting pressure on the Planning Inspectorate to reject the DCO application from National Highways. A decision is expected around June 2024.
Thank you to everyone who’s joined us in fighting the scheme. Together, we can create a better future that puts healthy people, wildlife and environment first.