Sunday, November 27, 2022
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MP Stephen Metcalfe writes open letter on proposed Lower Dartford Crossing

AN open letter from South Basildon and East Thurrock MP, Stephen Metcalfe

"As I am sure you are all aware, there has been much speculation recently about the status of a new Lower Thames Crossing and its possible impact on the area. I firstly must reiterate that I remain opposed to both Option A and Option C and any variant thereof.

I should also point out that recent press coverage is wildly speculative and no more likely to come to pass than any other option.

Having met with the Minister recently to discuss my ongoing concern around a new Lower Thames Crossing, I again made the case for something along the lines of Option D – a crossing further east in to the Thames estuary. However, the Minister, while sympathetic, informed me that data does not support this option as it would not have the desired impact on the existing crossing. It would also delay any new crossing by years as we would be back to square one.

Of course I would like them to reconsider but I can’t force them and they maintain that Option D would not elevate the traffic at the existing crossing, even allowing for the improvements that have come from Free Flow Tolling.

As is always the case with large infrastructure projects, wherever they are sited, they invariably have an impact on someone. As the local MP, I have been unable to make a robust enough case for an alternative option but that is not for the want of trying. That said, I have and will continue to oppose more motorways in Thurrock.

Looking forward, I understand that a new consultation will come forward either in December or January and will involve an option at the existing crossing and options based around Option C, but there will be a number of variations of Option C – possibly 4, this side of the Thames.

None of the 4 options for Option C will have detailed routes, I believe what we will see is rather an indication of a possible corridor through which the crossing might travel.

I am also informed that neither option, A or C is more favourable than any other and so speculation about proposed routes is just that at present, although a preferred route will be identified when the consultation begins.

I have invited the Minister down to look at this issue and see the devastating impact a new crossing will have at either location.

So moving on, I think we need to do a number of things.

First we must prepare for the consultation and make sure we know how we are going to get the information distributed as widely as possible.

Second, while we will continue to oppose either option we need to decide how to engage with the process to mitigate the impact of any proposals – this is not to accept the principle, but we don’t want a route imposed on us that we have had no input into.

Third, at some point, once the information is clearer, we will need to organize a public meeting to discuss the way forward, but that should happen once we know the details rather than speculate about what will actually be on the table.

I do understand your concerns and would like the issue to go away but it won’t, in the same way that HS2 and Heathrow won’t go away. We all know that a new crossing is needed but not at the proposed locations, but if they do go to the next stage we must be ready.

Thank you again for keeping me informed and I look forward to meeting up when we know more.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Metcalfe

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