THE £6.8 billion Lower Thames Crossing project – set to be one of the largest construction projects in Europe – is setting up a process to enable businesses to learn the skills needed and to help win contracts.
The Lower Thames Crossing – which will connect Kent and Thurrock and provide an alternative route for Dartford Crossing and Blackwall Tunnel users – will create Britain’s longest road tunnel. It will measure 14.3 miles and will almost double road capacity across the River Thames.
The project also means upgrades to the M25, A2 and A13 where it connects to those roads, and there will be a free-flow charging system, where drivers do not need to stop but pay remotely, similar to that at the Dartford Crossing.
On the south side of the River Thames, the new road would link to the A2 and M2 in Kent. On the north side, it would link to the A13 in Thurrock and the M25 in Havering.
The size of the scheme is also providing sizable opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises who may be able to tap into the vast budget – so long as they have the necessary skills wanted for the project.
Jay Francis, who heads up the Lower Thames Crossing’s approach for engaging and delivering effective support and opportunities for local businesses, said: “We want to make sure as much of the project spends stays as local as possible.
“Therefore we’re engaging with SMEs and local businesses to make sure they are in the best possible position to win work on the project.
“As part of that we’re working with the supply chain sustainability school which is a body that delivers free training for businesses. They can learn the skills we want to see on site.”
Hundreds of Continuing Professional Development accredited courses and modules are available through a monthly workshop for the coming year. These help to understand what SMEs would want to see and what support they want in order to help them win work on major projects, such as the Lower Thames Crossing.
Mr Francis added: “We want to make sure that these opportunities are understood to be available – not just to businesses directly in construction – but across the whole range so if we get permission to build the scheme we’re going to need businesses running the full gamut from cleaning and clerical to civil engineering and a whole host of things.”