Monday, April 22, 2024

New Dartford Crossing: Letter from minister confirms fears

A LETTER from Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, means a promise of more blight for Thurrock says Thurrock Council Leader, Cllr John Kent.

The letter – to Peter Jones, chair of the South East Local Transport Board, part of the Local Enterprise Partnership – confirms the government is still only looking at Options A or C; close to the current crossing or just top the east of Tilbury and through the Green Belt.

But it goes on to say: “Once the decision about the location for the new crossing has been made it is likely that a number of possible routes at the selected location will be considered and consulted on prior to a preferred route being announced.”

Cllr Kent said: “This letter simply confirms that large parts of our borough are to be blighted for years to come.

“Not only are we not able to fight Thurrock’s corner because the government can’t make a decision, we’re being told that even when they plump for Option A or Option C, we still won’t know any specifics.

“People living in the vicinity of the current crossing – and the many nearby businesses – can’t make plans for the future in case the government decides to ignore all the pollution issues and the undoubted increase in congestion Option A will generate.

“What ‘possible’ routes can there be for this option – to the east or west of the bridge and tunnels, over ground or under water, through Purfleet or West Thurrock?”

He added: “And Option C is even worse. We believe we know, roughly, where the government plans for the crossing to land in Thurrock – somewhere between Tilbury Fort and Coalhouse Fort – and then it ploughs through and between green fields and small towns.

“No matter what, it will be through Thurrock’s Green Belt and very probably through the Mardyke fens and flood plain somewhere between Orsett and Bulphan.

“Why can’t the government come to a sensible decision and realise that after they get rid of the stop-start queues at the Dartford tolls, they should invest fully in the motorway’s junctions with the A13 to get rid of the congestion there instead of creating more pinch points, either at between the A13 and the A127, or on the A13 itself, somewhere around the Orsett Cock?

“Why can’t the government agree that Options D and E to the east of Thurrock is worth at least looking at?”

Cllr Kent said: “While it’s good to know Mr McLoughlin responded to the LEP letter, I’m disappointed he hasn’t responded to my letter last month about raising the tolls at the same time as putting in roadworks at the crossing.”

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