NEWS that the Government is delaying the decision on the Lower Thames Crossing has been met with major disappointment by Essex County Council.
County Councillor Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure, said: “We urgently need clarity on the Lower Thames Crossing and delaying the decision is bad news for businesses and residents and holds up our plans for economic growth. This is a vital link that is needed as part of the recovery of UK PLC and we need a clear view on this scheme to enable inward investment to Essex and beyond.”
In a consultation launched by the DfT in May 2013, ECC’s preference was for Option C, connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30; or a variant that would additionally widen the A229 between the M2 and M20.
The Council concluded that this would achieve the best balance between supporting economic growth in Essex, providing congestion relief around the Dartford-Thurrock river crossing and providing a new strategic link.
Councillor Bentley continued: “Through the DfT consultation, in the Economic Plan for Essex, and through negotiation of the SELEP Growth Deal with Government, we have continued to ask Government to make a firm commitment on the Lower Thames Crossing.
“We have made it very clear that additional capacity is needed in order to support economic growth and relieve congestion at the existing crossing, and we reiterate our position that Option C offers the best way of achieving this.
“We understand from the DfT that improvements planned for Junction 30 of the M25 in 2015 will go ahead regardless of the location of the new crossing, but we would like clarification from DfT that this is the case.
“In addition to the provision of a new crossing, improvements to the junctions of the A13 and A12 with the M25, the A127 with the A130 and the A130 with the A12 need to be considered to ensure that journeys in the vicinity of the Crossing are reliable on the busy road network.
“We would welcome the chance to discuss these requirements with the Highways Agency.”