ANGRY residents have slammed the Government’s “divisive” consultation on a new Thames river crossing at an impassioned public debate.

More than 100 local people attended a meeting on Monday night, with many speaking of their opposition to all three of the Government’s proposed crossing routes, which would see roads carve through Thurrock’s green belt land.

Residents have until July 16 to make their thoughts on three possible crossing options known. Option A would see a new tunnel or bridge next to the current QEII crossing, while Option B would cross the Thames and land in Thurrock at Grays Beach.

Option C, which Kent County Council and Essex County Council are said to favour, would see a bridge arrive in Thurrock between Tilbury Fort and Coalhouse Fort.

One Horndon resident told the meeting: “I don’t believe it’s a valid consultation as it sets community against community. In actual fact, we need to have a united voice.

“We’ve got to be united and give valid reasons why we oppose these crossings. We don’t want any more deterioration in our quality of life.”

Maggie Pollock, chairman of South Ockendon Community Forum, said: “We have got to get out there and make our communities sit up and say ‘this is about us’.

“I’m frightened people aren’t going to realise how this affects them until it’s too late.” Impassioned speeches were also made on the devastating affect all three options will have on the borough’s “unique” environment.

Steve Ireland, chairman of the Thurrock Biodiversity Action Group, said: “Thurrock has a unique and outstanding biodiversity and we’ve had a lot of development here.

“A new crossing would be an environmental disaster. We need to endure this goes out of Thurrock.”

Sue Schwar, who runs the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, in Orsett, said: “We built our hospital on green belt land because of the protection that offers as a mitigating factor against the damage being done by development in Thurrock."

One Orsett resident added: “Try and get a conservatory built on green belt in Thurrock, you won’t. But try and get a three-lane motorway built, that’s fine!”

The meeting’s aim was to encourage residents to take part in the consultation.