A multi-billion pound crossing plan has been pulled at the last minute - highways bosses have announced.

Highways England has withdrawn its plans after opening applications for construction firms earlier this week.

The planned crossing will link Essex and Kent underneath the River Thames and contain 23km of new road.

The proposed route starts on the M25 near South Ockendon, runs through Tilbury and crosses the River Thames to Chalk in Gravesham in Kent.

A spokesman said: “As with all major projects, there is a natural uncertainty of delivering a project of the size and scale of the Lower Thames Crossing. We’ve withdrawn the DCO application for the Lower Thames Crossing based on early feedback we’ve had from the Planning Inspectorate.

“We will take time to collate the information required for the specific points raised and will be resubmitting the application early in the new year. If the proposed road opening date changes, we will provide an update.”

He added that the recently launched procurement process for the project was unaffected.