Conservationists say Thames highway tunnel plan will destroy ‘irreplaceable’ woods

Conservationists have criticised plans for a brand new highway tunnel below the Thames which they are saying will destroy “irreplaceable” historic woodland and hurt wildlife.

Nationwide Highways says the Decrease Thames Crossing is the UK’s most bold roads challenge for greater than 30 years, nearly doubling highway capability throughout the Thames east of London and easing congestion on the Dartford Crossing.

The roads company mentioned the brand new route would join residents to jobs, enhance the financial system and create new public parks and replant 260 hectares of latest woodland – six occasions extra bushes than misplaced.

Hiding these impacts from the general public whereas consulting on the proposals is completely unacceptable

Jack Taylor, the Woodland Belief

However the Woodland Trust has criticised the plans, at the moment out for public session, which they are saying will destroy historic woodlands, fell veteran bushes, enhance air pollution and have an effect on wildlife resembling hazel dormice.

The woodland charity additionally raised issues a few lack of transparency over the environmental impacts of the taxpayer-funded scheme, and warned it didn’t match the Authorities’s rhetoric on tackling the local weather and nature crises.

The belief mentioned woods threatened by the scheme kind a part of the Shorn and Ashenbank historic woodland advanced, together with the charity’s personal Ashenbank Wooden.

The woods are dwelling to uncommon wildlife, together with woodpeckers, nice crested newts and dormice, in addition to essential bug species and 300 varieties of fungi, the Woodland Belief mentioned.

The charity’s evaluation suggests a number of hectares of woodland can be misplaced, whereas it additionally warns that remaining historic and veteran bushes and woodland can be hit by nitrogen air pollution from exhaust fumes.

Shorne Wooden is among the areas that could possibly be affected by the plans (Greg Hitchcock/WTML/PA)

Jack Taylor, lead campaigner, the Woodland Belief mentioned: “The lack of irreplaceable habitats like these is unacceptable. We’re preventing each a nature and local weather disaster, and destruction like this for a highway scheme beggars perception.”

And he mentioned: “Nationwide Highways (previously Highways England) has not disclosed particulars of which environmental options might be affected and to what extent.

“Hiding these impacts from the general public whereas consulting on the proposals is completely unacceptable.”

The rise in miles pushed brought on by the tunnel will push up carbon emissions and have an effect on the panorama of the Kent Downs Space of Excellent Pure Magnificence and the Green Belt, Nationwide Highways’ personal evaluation reveals.

The Woodland Belief is urging the general public to reply to the session, calling on Nationwide Highways to present a transparent appraisal of how a lot irreplaceable habitat could possibly be broken or destroyed, discover methods to forestall the lack of historic woodland and veteran bushes, and keep away from impacts on Ashenbank Wooden.

Matt Palmer, government director for the Decrease Thames Crossing, mentioned: “The Decrease Thames Crossing would be the greenest highway challenge ever constructed within the UK, and we’re dedicated to not solely decreasing its influence however leaving a optimistic, lasting environmental legacy.

“We’ve got prevented delicate areas the place potential and might be planting lots of of 1000’s of latest bushes that can considerably outstrip the variety of bushes which might be misplaced when constructing the brand new highway.

“Our plans additionally embrace exploring carbon impartial development, creating a big group woodland at Gap Farm, two new public parks and an unprecedented programme of biodiversity enhancements that can present greater, higher and extra joined up habitats for wildlife and plants.”

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