Wherever You Will Go The Calling
19 January 2012, 17:10
A Tory backbencher warned the Government today that it must listen to her constituents before ploughing ahead with a new Thames crossing at Thurrock, Essex.
MP for Thurrock, Jackie Doyle-Price, said she accepted that any additional crossing would be viewed by the Department for Transport as a piece of national infrastructure.
However she said national roads have an impact on local traffic too and said ministers would face a backlash if residents were not properly consulted.
In an adjournment debate in the Commons, Miss Doyle-Price said: "There are simply insufficient crossings east of Tower Bridge. It is clear that is holding back the capability of east London and the Thames Gateway to realise its full potential for economic good.''
However she added: "We do need assurances from the minister that the implications for Thurrock will be fully considered as the Government reviews its options.
"Given Thurrock's position as a logistics hub, the road infrastructure simply has to function adequately so our traffic can get around.
"Of course, there will be massive benefits if this can be achieved. But I would like you to take on three factors when looking at these options.
"Firstly, we want to be sure the new crossing will not cause destruction of Thurrock's green belt for the purpose of constructing a new motorway.
"Secondly, that it will not add additional traffic volumes to our already overcrowded road network.
"And thirdly that it will alleviate congestion at the Dartford Crossing. Clearly the degree to which it interacts with existing road networks will determine the amount that happens.
"Without these assurance, there will extremely strong opposition in Thurrock to a new crossing.''
Transport Minister Mike Penning said the existing Dartford crossing was of "national significance'' and part of the country's national motorway network.
He said he was not going to be drawn into where another crossing should be but added the business cases would be important, as well as the infrastructure they connect to and the cost of developing the infrastructure, the effects of the environment on each side of the river and the impact on the local communities.
Mr Penning said he believed concerns about congestion was "inhibiting investment'' in that part of the world, adding he supported London Mayor Boris Johnson's proposals for a new tunnel.
He pledged to "look very carefully'' at where the new crossing would go.
He said: "UK plc needs a new crossing on the lower Thames and that's what it will get.''