A statement from Stephen Metcalfe, Member of Parliament for South Basildon & East Thurrock, following the Transport Secretary’s announcement of a New Lower Thames Crossing
Mr Metcalfe said: “I am obviously very disappointed and upset by the announcement today that the Secretary of State for Transport will proceed with Highways England’s recommendation for a New Lower Thames Crossing at location C and with Route 3.
I feel we made a good argument against Option C and associated routes and was convinced we had built a strong case in favour of sorting out the existing crossing before proceeding with any new crossings.
Despite this I am pleased that the Secretary of State has said he looked closely at our arguments and considered alternatives but regret that he did not fully accept our points and has pushed ahead with what I believe to be a flawed decision.
I still believe Option C and route 3 is a mistake in terms of addressing my constituents’ concerns about air quality and congestion and I will not stop making that point until the very last moment.
My main concern continues to be that if and when a new crossing is built, if it fails to solve the actual problem, there will be outrage from me and from my constituents. There will be anger that our views were not listened to and we will be asking how we made such an error?
While I am disappointed by the decision and will still fundamentally oppose Option C3, I will want to engage with the Department for Transport and Highways England as they come forward with the detailed designs to mitigate its impact as much as possible.
Highways England have a duty to properly engage with local residents and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. I will be working with everyone involved to reduce the footprint of the junctions, crossing and associated roads as much as possible so as to save some of Thurrock’s green and pleasant land!
Immediately however, I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport to express our concerns about the decision and call for proper mitigation and consultation. I will also be asking the Secretary of State to meet with local residents to explain how the decision was arrived at so they can understand why our calls for an alternative solution have not been successful.