Tunnel decision to pave way for future prosperity
Business leaders say the new Lower Thames Crossing will boost the economy by supporting trade across the country when it opens in 10 years.
The tunnel, which will be built to the east of Gravesend, had been long supported by trade campaigners in the county but opposed by residents and environmentalists.
Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover said it will support growing levels of freight traffic expected to travel between the UK and Europe.
Highways England said in its consultation the new crossing will carry 78,500 vehicles each day in its opening year and would reduce traffic at the Dartford Crossing by 14%.
The government says there will be a 40% growth in freight traffic crossing the Channel by 2030.
Eurotunnel director of public affairs John Keefe said: “Easing traffic congestion to the east of London is essential for the supply chains that feed our industry and to access the markets where the UK sells its goods.”
Port of Dover chief executive Tim Waggott described the new tunnel as “an essential ingredient of the strategic infrastructure mix required to deliver national economic prosperity”.
Highways England had consulted on three options for the Lower Thames Crossing.
Alongside the tunnel to the east of Gravesend, it considered a crossing on the Swanscombe Peninsula, known as Option B, which was taken out of the running in 2013 after objections that it would jeopardise plans for a Paramount resort there.
It had also proposed a route next to the present crossing in Dartford, known as Option A.
Jo James, chief executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “Another crossing at Dartford would have been an absolute nightmare.
“It would have hindered business even further and built no resilience on our network and that’s what we need.”
Geoff Miles, chairman of Kent & Medway Economic Partnership, and Kent chairman of South East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Kent has borne the burden of congestion on the M25, which has held back trading links with Essex and beyond.
“A new crossing will unlock the local economy and help create an environment in which businesses can flourish.”
How the new bored tunnel for the Lower Thames Crossing will look from the Essex side
RESILIENCE: Jo James