Proposals for a ‘Lower Thames Crossing’ involve the widening of the A2, a link road east of Gravesend, and a bored tunnel under the Thames. Kent Wildlife Trust is opposed to these plans as they will result in the loss of irreplaceable ancient woodland.
A public consultation on these plans ran until Thursday 20th December 2018. Kent Wildlife Trust's response can be dowloaded at the bottom of this page.
Kent Wildlife Trust remains opposed to a crossing east of Gravesend ('Location C'), but recognises that a bored tunnel reduces impacts upon the internationally important habitats of the North Kent Marshes and Thames Estuary compared to the other crossing types.
However, the link road will destroy parts of Shorne & Ashenbank Woods SSSI, including ancient woodland at Brewers Wood and Brices Plantation, and Claylane Woods. An ancient woodland is one which has been present since 1600. They now only cover about 2% of the country and are effectively irreplaceable.
Several veteran trees within the areas of ancient woodland are also threatened by the plans for the new roads. This Veteran Sweet Chestnut Tree is in Brewers Wood, adjacent to the A2.
The full set of consultation documents can be found on Highways England's website: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/ltc/consultation/
While we are opposed to the plans, we have a number of expectations if the project progresses:
- Owing to the potential for the route to destroy woodland and farmland habitats and associated species, we will be expecting that these impacts are properly identified, and avoided and minimised wherever possible.
- Not only will we also be looking for adequate mitigation and compensation for any impacts, we will also be seeking 'enhancements' to the local environment and habitat connectivity.
- Ancient Woodland is an irreplaceable habitat, so we will be expecting at least 30 hectares of woodland to be planted (excluding verges and embankments) for every hectare of ancient woodland lost.
Kent Wildlife Trust's response to the 2018 consultation can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.
The decision-making process is flawed. While the economic benefits have been weighed against the financial costs, they have not assessed the economic costs that arise from damage to the environment and communities.
Kent Wildlife Trust believes that the only sustainable way to reduce congestion is to reduce demand. This has the additional benefit of reducing air pollution and the greenhouse gasses that result in climate change. Air pollution is the leading environmental health risk factor in the UK, and climate change is one of the greatest threats to our environment and the ‘ecosystem services’ which we depend upon. We believe that road developments should only be considered as a last resort within a sustainable transport strategy, which must be planned and fully integrated with conservation objectives and the land use planning process. This should:
- prioritise environmentally sensitive maintenance and improvement of the current road network over new road schemes
- reduce the need to travel, for example through: well-designed towns, cities and neighbourhoods; and improved transport technology
- promote reductions in private vehicle use in order to reduce traffic levels, fuel consumption and vehicle emissions, including fiscal measures and car share schemes
- minimise dependency on private vehicle use by increasing and improving public transport and active travel routes, which are well connected to essential services
A public consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing proposals ran from the 26th January to the 24th March 2016. Kent Wildlife Trust's full response to the consultation can be downloaded below, alongside our response to the current consultation.
A Veteran Sweet Chestnut tree in Brewers Wood. Quite a few trees like this are threatened by the further widening of the A2.
About the Sites
A site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is a national designation intended to provide statutory protection for the best examples of the UK's flora, fauna, or geological features. An ancient woodland is one which has been present since 1600, and are often best identified by the suite of ‘indicator species’ that they support. Ancient woodlands now only cover about 2% of the country and are irreplaceable.
Shorne and Ashenbank Woods SSSI
Shorne and Ashenbank Woods SSSI include both Shorne Woods Country Park and the Woodland Trust’s Ashenbank Woods on the south side of the A2. Brices Plantation and Brewers Woods are ancient woodlands within the SSSI, north of the A2.
The site supports an important and diverse invertebrate fauna, especially beetles, true bugs and dragonflies. The woodland varies from sweet chestnut coppice to a more mixed broadleaved woodland of mature oak, sweet chestnut, and hornbeam, and holly and yew are frequent in the understorey. Bramble, bluebell, dog’s mercury, and bracken dominate the ground flora, together with ancient woodland indicators such as wood spurge, wood sedge and wood anemone. The woodland breeding bird community includes hawfinch, marsh tit and all three British woodpeckers.
Like Great Crabbles, Shorne and Court Woods, Claylane Wood is ancient woodland. We do not have much information on this woodland. Parts of it are likely to be lost to the link road.