A RED tape blunder means thousands of people had to pay £2 to collect Government leaflets outlining the latest work on the controversial Lower Thames Crossing.

Highways England has sent the leaflets to residents living near the proposed Lower Thames Crossing route to explain its work so far.

But the letters, which are delivered in a plain white envelope addressed to ‘The Occupier’, appeared to have had no postage paid on them, leaving residents to pay £2 to collect them. 

Highways England insisted the postage was paid for, and that there has been an issue with the Royal Mail.

The government body has now confirmed that “human error at the Post Office” meant that a “small number” of leaflets were sent out without postage stamps.

A spokesman added that the Post Office has stated anyone who had paid will be entitled to a refund

A spokesman for the Lower Thames Crossing action group said: “Some residents may get cards from Royal Mail stating they have a £2 fee to pay to collect this mail.

“The leaflets come in a plain white envelope and are simply addressed to ‘The Occupier’ at your address, so until you go to the sorting office, pay the £2 fee and open the envelope you will not be aware what it is.

“They can’t even send out info leaflets without messing up, how can we trust them with anything else, let alone building a £6.8billion crossing?

“We also still have serious concerns over the ground investigations that will take place, especially in the East Tilbury area with regards to the historic landfill sites and the potential harm that may be uncovered or released into the air and environment since nobody really knows what is in these historic landfill sites.” The latest proposal for the route, published in August last year, would see the tunnel start near to the A127 junction with the M25, and travel through North Ockendon, South Ockendon, Orsett and Tilbury, with link roads in each area.

A Highways England spokesman said: “A key part of the Lower Thames Crossing scheme is keeping local residents up to date on the latest project developments. Recently we sent out 2,000 leaflets to residents using the Post Office’s ‘Drop and Go’ service, paying for the postage in full before the leaflets went out.

“However, it would appear the correct postage was not applied. We’re in contact with the Post Office to understand what has happened and why the correct postage wasn’t applied.

“We would like to apologise to anyone who has received a latter without the correct postage.”

The spokesman later added: “We have received confirmation from the Post Office that a small number of envelopes may have been sent out unstamped due to human error. Anyone who has had to pay to receive our information leaflet will receive a full refund from the Post Office.

“To obtain their refund, they need to get in touch with the Post Office at houndsditch.crown-office@Postoffice.co.uk with an image of the envelope with the paid stamp. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience this has caused”