SENIOR politicians have hit out at the Government’s failure to announce its preferred option for a new Lower Thames Crossing.
Last week, Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced option B - that would have landed in the area of Grays Beach Park and led on to the Dock Approach Road towards the A13 - had ‘the weakest case’ and would not be pursued.
The announcement means Options A and C will be kept alive until more environmental studies are carried out, which include studying potential further improvements on the M25 and A13.
Thurrock Council leader John Kent said the failure to make a decision could blight local business and home owners, while East Thurrock MP Stephen Metcalfe said he was “disappointed” that option C was still on the table.
Mr Kent said: “Businesses are already telling us they are concerned by the uncertainty caused by the previous delays – now there are further delays.
“Business doesn’t know whether or where to invest, and homeowners along both route corridors are also left not knowing the future. It’s not good enough.”
The two remaining options are Option A - which would see another crossing built next to the current Dartford Thurrock crossing and Option C - which would land between Coalhouse and Tilbury forts and travel north towards the Orsett Cock junction of the A13, before meeting the M25 between junctions 29 and 30.
The Highways Agency has already started preparations so that the crossing can be delivered as quickly as possible once the final location has been decided.
Option C has been heavily criticised by Thurrock’s MPs.
Mt Metcalfe said: “I am of course disappointed that Option C was not discarded in response to the consultation. I do not believe that either Option C, or A, are the right ones for the local area or for the country and I will continue to make the case that a wider range of alternatives are needed.”
Stephen Metcalfe was disappointed that option C was not discarded
Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price said: “The fact government haven’t chosen between Option A and Option C is indicative of the very real problems with each of them. No news is good news.
“But we do need more river crossings and we need to go out on the front foot to set the agenda as to where they might be. These proposals have been around since 2009 yet Thurrock Council has done nothing to make the case for what is in the best interests of Thurrock.”
Whatever option is chosen, it is expected the new crossing will improve journey times and the road network, both to and within the Thames Gateway and the South East.
It will also reduce congestion at the QEII bridge and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
About 6,000 jobs will be created in the development of the crossing.