Thames Crossing funding still opaque as new consultation launched

Chris Ames

The roads regulator has criticised Highways England for failing to quantify the impact of delays to the Lower Thames Crossing on its budget for the current Road Investment Strategy (RIS 2).

The government-owned company has admitted that construction on the project to build a tunnel between Kent and Essex is now likely to start in 2024, at least a year later than planned, and may not be complete until 2030.

Highways England has so far failed to clarify how the amended timetable will affect funding under RIS 2.

In its latest assessmment of Highways England's performance, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) revealed that delays to large schemes in the development phase have caused a projected underspend of £555m, which 'does not include the expected financial effect of the 12-month delay on Lower Thames Crossing'.

The ORR added: 'We are concerned that whilst the delay was known in November 2020, Highways England was still evaluating the RP2 and total outturn impact at year-end.'

In addition, Highways England’s recently published Delivery Plan Update still gives a projected start date of '2022-23 Q4', albeit noting that this date could change.

The RIS 2 document gives the cost of the project as between £6.4bn and £8.2bn, although it is unclear how much of this funding was originally due to come during the second roads period (2020-25) as part of what is said to be £14.7bn for ‘upgrades’.

The news comes as Highways England has published its latest consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing.

Matt Palmer, executive director for Lower Thames Crossing, said: ‘The new, reliable connection would improve access to hundreds of thousands of additional jobs, offer new opportunities for local businesses, and create and connect new green spaces that are so important for wildlife and local communities.

‘This further consultation is another opportunity for people to have their say before we submit our planning application at the end of the year.’

Highways England is promoting the new link as providing ‘better access to existing jobs for Gravesham, Thurrock and Havering as improved journey times would bring over 400,000 more jobs within a 60-minute commute’.

The work is now set in the context of the Government's newly released transport decarbonisation plan, which pledged to review the national policy statement, which sets out the Government’s policies on the national road network.

Highways England has repeatedly disputed the concept of induce demand, under which additional road capacity creates additional journeys, although it promotes its schemes as facilitating new journeys.

Highways England said consultation documents also include summaries that provide an unprecedented level of information tailored to each local community affected by the project and including details of:

  • two new public parks that would remove the need for over 470,000 HGV movements on local roads by beneficially reusing excavated material:
  • a 38-hectare park near Gravesend
  • a 48-hectare park overlooking the Thames in Thurrock
  • more than 260 hectares of new woodland – in addition to the new 100-hectare community woodland being created in partnership with Forestry England, near Great Warley in Brentwood
  • 46km of new and improved footpaths, bridleways, and cycle routes, as well as 120% more hedgerows, 40% more ponds, 10% more ditches, and seven new green bridges
  • the proposed locations of the construction and utility compounds, and temporary construction roads
  • a summary of the predicted impact of the project during construction and operation on topics ranging from local traffic, public transport and cycle paths to air quality, noise and vibration.

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue


  • Smart motorways' BCR problem
  • New lighting decision support tool



View the latest issue

Highways jobs

Senior Project Manager

Up to £50,823 per annum
The role of this post is to oversee the project management, development and implementation of the County Council’s Major Transport Projects.. Leicestershire
Recruiter: Leicestershire County Council

Programme and Change Delivery Manager (Spatial Planning and Urban Design)

£43,833 - £53,115 Depending on skills and experience
Are you a change delivery manager with expertise in England’s local government spatial planning and urban design sector? Wandsworth, London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Bridges Manager – Highways and Transportation

£49,320 to £57,376
You will be responsible for... Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Head of Major Projects and Infrastructure – Highways and Transportation

£59,526 to £67,815 plus 10% recruitment payment
This role will be pivotal to the effective delivery of our Highways and Transportation service, therefore requires an... Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Principal Travel Plan Officer

£34,728 to £38,890 per annum
We have a fantastic opening within our team for a Principal Travel Plan Officer. Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Director of Economy & Environment

£96,414 to £106,650 per annum
You will play a leading role in driving forward the county’s ambitious growth programme. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Director of Transport & Highways

£96,414 to £106,650 per annum
You will play a leading role in driving forward Gloucestershire’s ambitious, multi-million pound transport and highways programme. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Board and Partnership Board Chair

Up to £60,000 per annum
This is unique opportunity to lead the Northern agenda and play a pivotal role in creating new opportunities for 15 million people in the North. Manchester/Leeds (Flexible)
Recruiter: Transport for the North

Waste Strategy Manager

£47,672 per annum
We are looking to recruit a waste strategy specialist to add the necessary technical expertise to our team. North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear
Recruiter: North Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council

Highways Officers

£26,999 to £29,636
Are you someone who is looking to progress their career with one of the most highly regarded highway services in the country? Selby, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Highways Operative

£19,312 to £21,748
We are looking for Highways Operatives to work as part of our operations teams here at Kirklees Council. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Senior Environmental Health Officer

£44,370 - £50,964 per annum
As a Senior Officer in the Food Safety & Infectious Disease team, you will be one of the operational leads on... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Permit Officer

£24,982 - £27,041
In October 2016 Cambridgeshire County Council launched it Permit Scheme for Road Works and Street Works. Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
Recruiter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Traffic Systems Engineer

Competitive Salary
This is a full time role, with a minimum of 37 hours a week for a 6 month interim period, with the potential of the role going permanent. York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

Transport Compliance Officer

£27,741 - £30,451 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen for two Transport Compliance Officers to join our Transport Services team at... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Client Team Leader - Highway Maintenance

£40,876 - £42,821 per annum
Are you looking for a challenge that widens your experience, adds something unique to your CV and helps to make Warwickshire the best it can be?  Warwickshire
Recruiter: Warwickshire County Council

Head of Waste & Parking

£62,235–£68,615 pa
Are you passionate about waste recycling and the bigger picture of sustainability and tackling the climate emergency? Horsham, West Sussex
Recruiter: Horsham District Council

Project Engineer x2

Grade H £35,745 - £43,857
We’re looking for experienced civil engineers to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recruiter: Havant Borough Council

Environment Locality Officer

£27,741 - £29,577 per annum
The officer will play a key role in collaborative working with other internal & external stakeholders specifically... Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Principal Structures Engineer

£39,880 - £42,821 per annum
We are looking for a dynamic structurally competent and relevantly experienced officer, to deliver the structural requirements and disciplines on... Bristol
Recruiter: Bristol City Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video