INDUSTRY leaders from across London and the South East are calling on the Chancellor to commit to the timely development of a new Lower Thames Crossing.

Ahead of next week’s Government Budget, representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Freight Transport Association (FTA), Port of Dover and London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) have warned in an open letter to City AM that the region’s road network is “at breaking point”.

City A.M. is a free, business-focused newspaper distributed in and around London.

A Government consultation on a new crossing closed in March 2016 with the promise of a final decision on a new crossing by the end of last year and a decision on it is expected in due course.

The full letter can be found below.

Sir, As the Spring Budget approaches, we call on the Chancellor to guarantee the earliest possible delivery of a new Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) in order to boost national growth and productivity.

The Dartford Crossing remains the only road across the Thames, east of London. While it may have been fit for purpose when it was constructed half a century ago, it is creaking under the pressure of 50 million crossings a year.

This lack of capacity means the region’s road networks are routinely gridlocked. With so much of the country’s international trade conducted through ports in the South East, this poor connectivity is hampering the UK economy at large.

Added to this is the detrimental impact that a road network at breaking point is having on air quality, public safety and commuter productivity. Clearly, action is required. And it’s critical that the benefits of any future crossing are not undone by punitive user charges.

The Government’s crossing consultation closed around this time last year and received 47,000 responses, making it the largest ever public consultation for a UK road project. Yet the thousands of stakeholders who have long-demanded a new crossing LTC have been promised nothing more than a decision on the proposal in “due course”.

This is simply not good enough. As our current infrastructure network stands, it threatens to bring the South East to a standstill. It’s high time for the Government to demonstrate its commitment to infrastructure investment and a strong economy with the development of a new crossing over the Thames.

Sue Terpilowski OBE, London Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses David Milham, Kent & Medway Federation of Small Businesses Natalie Chapman, London & South East Head of Policy, Freight Transport Association Tim Waggott, Chief Executive, Port of Dover Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce & Industry