CONFIRMATION the new Lower Thames Crossing will go ahead has been described as ‘a major economic shot in the arm’ for the county’s economy by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) and the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce.
SELEP, which champions development and business interests in Kent, East Sussex, Essex, said it ‘warmly welcomed’ the announcement by Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for the Department of Transport, last week.
Several different options had been put forward for the project, which aims to relieve chronic congestion at the Dartford crossing, with Route 3, option C – the favourite of Highways England – being selected.
When complete it will link the M25 between Junction 29 and 30, and cross the Thames via £6 billion tunnel between Tilbury, east of Gravesend, before connecting with the A2 near Shorne in Kent.
Jo James, Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce praised the decision, and said it sends ‘the strongest possible message’ to business that the Government recognises the importance of investing in strategic infrastructure.
The decision to move ahead with the scheme comes more than a year after 47,000 people took part in Highways England’s consultation.
Also announced is the £66m investment to widen the A13 – a major route through Thurrock and the Thames Gateway growth area and directly enable the creation of an estimated 4,045 new jobs and 3,340 new homes by 2021.
Geoff Miles, Chairman of Kent & Medway Economic Partnership, and Kent Chair of SELEP, said: “Despite our proximity to Europe and London, Kent has borne the burden of congestion on the M25, which has held back trading links with Essex and beyond.
“A new crossing will unlock the local economy and help create an environment in which businesses can flourish.”