Proposed Lower Thames Crossing
Proposed Lower Thames Crossing
With less than three weeks to go before the consultation on a new Lower Thames Crossing comes to a close, business groups have been coming forward with their support for route C - east of Gravesend.
In recent days, briefings to a number of important groups across Kent by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP) and the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP) has seen business back the preferred route east of Gravesend, and the connection to Junction 1 of the M2.
Meetings held by Dover Business Forum; Maidstone Economic Business Partnership; Shepway Business Advisory Board, and Thanet Business Forum have all backed the easterly route accepting Highways England’s position that it offers the widest benefit to the Kent economy.
All the groups recognised that another crossing at Dartford offered Kent no benefit but that there was a compelling case for investment elsewhere, notably on the A2/M2 and A229, in order to manage the expected increases in traffic throughout the county.
Paul Thomas, Chairman of Maidstone Economic Business Partnership, said: “It is vital that we secure a new crossing and that its route delivers the greatest economic benefit for the county as a whole and the route east of Gravesend is clearly the better option.
“A new crossing at Dartford makes no sense as it fails to improve the resilience of the strategic road network, nor does it alleviate the issues facing business and the people of Dartford.”
“Although Highways England is not consulting on other network improvements we would urge them not to overlook upgrading the A2/M2 link to the Port of Dover to support the movement of freight and visitor traffic through our county.”
Dover Business Forum member Matthew Jaenicke, Managing Director of Viking Recruitment added: “It is crucial that the work includes upgrading the A2/M2 link to the Port of Dover to support the movement of freight and visitor traffic through our county.
“There is major commercial investment and house building under way in Dover, and we need to have a transport network that supports the area’s economic growth.
“Although some miles away, a new Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend would play a significant part in helping us attract more jobs and business to the area.”
Businesses can give their views on the proposed route of a new Lower Thames Crossing by attending a special event being organised by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce and SE LEP and KMEP.
The Lower Thames Crossing meeting, on Friday 18 March at the Mercure Great Danes Hotel, Maidstone, will outline the key issues and the business case for the £7bn investment linking Kent with Essex, east of Gravesend.
Jo James who represents business on the SE LEP board and is Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber, added: “We need to send the strongest possible message to government that a new crossing at Dartford, although already discounted by Highways England as inappropriate, would damage the county’s economy.
“A crossing east of Gravesend connecting with Tilbury and onwards to the M25 north of the river gives the widest possible benefit to Kent and at the same time strengthens the nation’s strategic road network. We are calling on businesses to raise their collective voice.”
Businesses interested in attending the free event should contact Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce on 01233 503838.
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