The latest milestone has been reached in plans for the Lower Thames Crossing, with the government accepting an application to examine the proposals in more detail.
National Highways submitted its plans in October for the crossing, which would be 14.5 miles long and run between the A2/M2 in Kent and junction 29 of the M25 in Havering.
The scheme, intended to ease congestion around the Dartford Crossing, would see two tunnels carry the road under the River Thames.
The Planning Inspectorate, which decides on national infrastructure planning applications such as this, will now carry out a detailed examination of the plans after accepting a development consent order application.
Matt Palmer, executive director for the Lower Thames Crossing, said: “The Planning Inspectorate has accepted that our comprehensive programme of consultation and design development has been undertaken properly, meaning our plans can now be taken forward for robust and thorough examination by independent, government-appointed experts.”
Its chair Laura Blake said the campaigners would continue to fight the crosing, which she called “hugely destructive and harmful”.
It withdrew support after Highways England – as National Highways was then called – dropped a discount for Havering residents using the crossing.
In July last year, former council leader Damian White said the crossing would have a “significant impact” on the borough, adding: “It will result in noise and disturbance, make our roads even busier, and undermine our efforts to improve air quality in the borough.”
The Recorder contacted the council for comment on the latest milestone in the scheme but did not receive a response.
National Highways expects the planning process to take around 18 months, including six months of examination.
A spokesperson said it will provide information to communities and road users to keep them informed of the process and how they can provide their views on the proposals.
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