Essex: County backs new river crossing plan as it calls for improvements to A12 and A13 junctions with M25

The Queen Elizabeth II bridge at the Dartford crossing of the River Thames

The Queen Elizabeth II bridge at the Dartford crossing of the River Thames - Credit: PA

Business representatives and politicians have welcomed Essex County Council’s (ECC) response to a consultation on options for a new Lower Thames Crossing.

The Department of Transport (DfT) has put forward three options for another crossing to support the current bridge and tunnel at Dartford and has asked for views to be submitted as part of the consultation, which ends on Tuesday July 16.

ECC’s initial response, which will be discussed at a meeting of cabinet on Tuesday 16th July, supports so-called Option C which would see any crossing connect the M2 in Kent with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30.

Option C is the only option that provides a strategic link between the Channel Ports and the Midlands and the North, and provides improved connectivity to Essex from these locations.

The council says this option improving access to labour markets and providing employment opportunities to support regeneration across the Thames Gateway. It also feels it produces the most significant boost to the local economy and supports the greatest number of jobs, based on and joint studies carried out by ECC and Kent County Council.

As well as expressing this preferred option for the location of the new crossing, ECC’s draft response also calls on the Department for Transport (DfT) to consider the impact that this nationally important strategic link has on the local trunk road network.

ECC is calling for improvements to the junctions of the A13 and A12 with the M25, the A127 with the A130 and the A130 with the A12 to all be considered, as part of a wider package of measures to ensure that journeys in the vicinity of the crossing are also reliable.

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Cabinet member for highways and transportation councillor Rodney Bass,said: “We have considered all of the options provided by the DfT in great detail, and have come to the decision that Option C offers the best balance between supporting economic growth, relieving congestion at the existing crossing and providing a new strategic link. However we will also be calling on the DfT to consider the impact this this strategic link will have on the surrounding road network, and the wider package of measures that will be required to ensure that journeys are reliable.”

At Essex Chambers of Commerce, director of policy David Burch, said option C was the also the choice of business people in the county. He said the it was supported by the Chamber as well as the business lobby at the Local Enterprise Partnership.

He added: “We would also like to see the A229 widened between the M2 and the M20 to improve traffic flows and the removal of tool booth at the current Dartford crossings removed as soon as possible in favour of free-flowing tolling in order to ease congestion.

“Option C is the most expensive option but it is the best scheme for the long run. We would now like to see the Government get on a build it.”

Witham MP, Priti Patel, who “Increasing the capacity to cross the River Thames is a strategic priority for the region and will unlock huge economic benefits. I welcome the strong response from Essex County Council and will be working with them to ensure that their response is given full consideration by the Government. Our County needs this new crossing as a matter of priority and I will also be urging Ministers to start construction work as soon as possible.”