The existing river crossing capacity in the Lower Thames area - the Dartford-Thurrock crossing - is operating above the capacity it was designed for, and there is already serious congestion at the crossing with negative consequences for business productivity and the national economy. This crossing forms a key route within the strategic road network. It completes the orbital route of the M25 around London and provides the only Thames river crossing east of London. In addition, the Dartford-Thurrock crossing is located in the Thames Gateway area, where we expect substantial redevelopment and growth.
We therefore propose that a second crossing should be built across the Lower Thames and I am today publishing, (21 May 2013), a consultation document inviting views on the relative merits of 3 options for locating a new road based river crossing in the Lower Thames area and a variant of one of these 3 options.
The 3 options are:
- option A: at the site of the existing A282 Dartford-Thurrock river crossing
- option B: connecting the A2 with the A1089
- option C: connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30
- a variant for option C would additionally widen the A229 between the M2 and M20
Government is committed to tackling the congestion at the Dartford-Thurrock crossing and will improve traffic flows by introducing free flow charging technology to replace the existing cash charge collection and extensive toll plazas. However, even with these improvements there will be a future need for additional river crossing capacity. That is why government identified a new Lower Thames crossing as one of its top 40 infrastructure projects in the national infrastructure plan 2011 and committed to reviewing and consulting on options for locating the new crossing.
The technical analysis undertaken for and by my department is now complete. It has confirmed the need for additional road based river crossing capacity and concluded that that all 3 options (including one with the variant) would accommodate additional traffic growth and reduce congestion at the existing crossing albeit to varying extents. In addition, the review has concluded that it would technically be feasible to deliver a scheme at all of the options.
The consultation document and related technical reports, which I am publishing today, set out the findings of the technical analysis for the 3 options considered and the variant. It presents information about the impacts of providing a crossing at each of the options and invites views from all interested parties.
The responses received to this consultation will be analysed and interpreted to help inform our decision on where to locate a new crossing. In weighing up the relative merits of the alternate locations, Government will need to consider the relative economic, environmental and social impacts as well as the potential cost, affordability and value for money.
This is the first stage of decision making. Subject to the decision on location, work will commence on the development of a scheme at the selected location and this will involve further consultation.
I am pleased to announce that the consultation will run [from Tuesday 21 May until Tuesday 16 July]. Anyone with an interest is invited to take part. A consultation document and instructions for responding can be found on the GOV.UK website. An electronic copy has been lodged with the House library.
Department for Transport officials will also be available to answer questions with public information events on the following dates:
- Thursday 13 June, Dartford Library, 2 to 8pm
- Saturday 15 June, Grays Library, 10am to 5pm
- Monday 17 June, Chadwell Library, 2 to 7pm
- Thursday 20 June, Bluewater Shopping Centre, 10am to 9pm
- Friday 21 June, Lakeside Shopping Centre, 10am to 10pm
- Saturday 22 June, Gravesend Library, 9am to 5pm