Tun­nel de­ci­sion to pave way for fu­ture pros­per­ity

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Crossing Business Boost - By Chris Price

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

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