May we bring to your attention our serious concerns about the Lower Thames Crossing
Given the current financial situation together with the doubts expressed by the professional
institutions about the appraisal method used to justify the scheme, to proceed in the present
circumstances would be unwise. The economic case is unsound. The project is based on
assumptions about the way traffic will grow over the lifetime of the tunnel that no longer
hold. The benefits, measured largely in terms of time savings, are likely to be short-term,
while the costs are not. A significant proportion of the time savings will be consumed by car
drivers travelling further, or making new journeys that do not necessarily support the national
or local economy.
Environmentally, the scheme is on dangerous ground. It will affect many areas of North
Kent, whose roads are ill-equipped to deal with the traffic that the scheme will generate.
Although in the longer term, many drivers will switch to electric vehicles, the construction
process itself will release a very large amount of carbon, a factor that is baked into the
scheme regardless of any change in the way people travel in the UK, making progress
towards more efficient forms of transport more difficult. Self-driving cars may come to
dominate the market within the lifetime of the project, and if they operate as a shared
occupancy service, traffic demand could fall. If not, it could rise – nobody knows.
We urge you to use your best endeavours to persuade the Government to postpone
implementation, at least while a clearer financial picture emerges, and in the meantime to
consult those outside the Department who are well-placed to explain the widespread
misgivings felt by many transport specialists about the decision-making process involved.
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