An application was originally submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in October 2020 but was withdrawn in order to provide more information. The new application has been made after what National Highways says is the “most extensive consultation exercise ever undertaken for a UK road scheme”.

“We’ve carried out a huge programme of engagement and consultation with our stakeholders and communities to improve the design of the Lower Thames Crossing and reduce our impact on our neighbours and the environment. We're grateful to our stakeholders and local communities for taking the time to give us feedback and help us shape our route and how we will build it,” said Lower Thames Crossing executive director Matt Palmer.

The 4.5km twin-bore river crossing will be the longest UK road tunnel and, with a diameter of over 16m, the widest tunnel in Europe. More than 80 per cent of the route crossing will be below ground or behind landscaped embankments. A tunnel was chosen rather than a bridge to reduce the environmental impact on sensitive ecological landscapes such as the Thames Estuary and Marshes.

In February it was designated a carbon pathfinder project, meaning it will explore ways to achieve carbon neutral construction.

Despite the delays to the DCO, National Highways has progressed procurement.

In April 2021 the shortlist for the £2.3bn (US$3.08bn) tunnel and approaches contract was revealed. The three companies are BFV JV comprising BAM Nuttal, Ferrovial Construction (UK) and Vinci Construction Grands Projets, supported by Atkins, Tecnica y Proyectos SA (TYPSA) and Stantec UK; Bouygues Murphy JV (BMJV) comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics and J Murphy & Sons, supported by Mott McDonald and Ove Arup and Partners; and Dragados-Hochtief JV (DHJV) comprising Dragados and Hochtief Infrastructure.

The four companies shortlisted for the £600m (US$800m) design and build Kent Roads package are: BFV JV – BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Construction (UK) and Vinci Construction Grands Projets; Costain; Kier Eiffage JV (KEJV) – Kier Highways and Eiffage Génie Civil; and Skanska Construction UK

Two companies – Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering and Kier Eiffage JV (Kier Highways and Eiffage Génie Civil) – have been shortlisted for the £1.3bn (US$1.74bn) roads contract north of the Thames.

All three works contracts are due to be awarded in summer 2023.