The controversial and long awaited decision for a new route across the lower River Thames has finally been confirmed.
Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has confirmed that the new crossing will see a tunnel built across the A13 at Orsett and connect land east of Tilbury to land east of Gravesend.
The £6billion project – the most expensive of the proposed options – will link the M25, near North Ockendon, Essex, with the A2 near Shorne, Kent, passing through greenbelt land.
Despite the fact that this major, new engineering and construction project is set to create 6,000 jobs and during its first year of operation is estimated to carry 4.5 million lorries, it has divided opinion amongst local communities and those directly affected by the route.
Residents of Gravesend had campaigned against the crossing and the town’s MP, Adam Holloway, described the decision as a “crazy idea” and “a disaster for the people of Dartford”.
Defending its plans, the Department for Transport (DfT), has stated that the chosen option was picked by nearly 47,000 people who took part in a consultation.
A spokesman for the DfT has also confirmed that amendments to the proposals had been made, with the route “optimised” after the consultation and moved slightly east to avoid people’s homes.
The Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, which is building thousands of houses across north Kent, Eurotunnel, the Port of Dover, Kent Invicta Chamber and Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite (Con) all voiced their support for the decision.
Christian Brodie, of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership said: “This will strengthen the resilience of our UK and European connections – imperative as we now move towards Brexit.”
Dartford’s Conservative MP Gareth Johnson also welcomed the decision, saying it was right “for Dartford but also for the whole country”.
He added: “It would have been wrong to locate another crossing at Dartford and funnel more traffic into the area and on to roads that can’t cope as it is.
“I understand this decision may not be welcomed by residents in Gravesend but we will do what we can to ensure the impact on the environment is limited.”
Adam Davis, a partner with Palmers who heads the firm’s construction and engineering department, said: “The Lower Thames Crossing proposals have been the subject of much controversy and debate in the local area since proposals were first flagged in 2009 and it was inevitable that, no matter which route was finally chosen, there would be winners and losers.
“Now that the uncertainty is over and the route has been confirmed, there will be opportunities for construction and engineering firms to bid for a slice of the Lower Thames Crossing contract.
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