Lower Thames Crossing gets green light

The government has announced support for a new road tunnelling the Thames to connect north Kent and south Essex, which could create thousands of jobs.

The new Lower Thames Crossing, located east of Gravesend and Tilbury, will link the A2 to the south of the river and the M25 to the north, reducing the burden on the Dartford Crossing, seven miles to the west.

Announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling on 12 April, the scheme is expected to create more than 6,000 jobs and add £8 billion to the economy. It is expected that 4.5 million heavy good vehicles will use the crossing in its first year.

The 70mph, 13-mile route will run from the M25 near North Ockendon, cross the A13 at Orsett before crossing the Thames via a tunnel. A new road will then take traffic to the A2 near Shorne, close to where the route becomes the M2.

A starting date for the project is yet to be announced.

Consultation on four alternative proposals on the location of the new crossing saw nearly 47,000 respondents, making it the largest ever public consultation for a road project in the country. A spokesperson for the government said the majority of them identified the route east of Gravesend, known as option C, as the best one for reducing congestion and “boosting the economy by improving links to London and the Channel ports”.

Option C was also supported by the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation. Interim chief executive Paul Spooner greeted the announcement by saying: “We are pleased the government is in favour of the option we have always said is essential to the housing and economic growth of the North Kent area as it will divert significant volumes of national and international traffic, most notably freight vehicles, away from the A2/M25 bottleneck.

“This option, along with our integrated transport plan, will ensure that Ebbsfleet Garden City achieves the government’s priorities of significant new housing and sustainable growth.

Spooner added that the EDC supported further improvements to transport in the area, including upgrading the A2 at Bean and Ebbsfleet, the Fastrack bus system and delivering new pedestrian and cycle routes.

He also said that the EDC was “building the case” for Crossrail to be extended to Ebbsfleet International.