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12 December 2013, 10:33
The Government has dropped the one of the route options for a new Lower Thames crossing.
It has decided not to go ahead with the route which would have run through the Swanscombe Peninsula after it received only limited support in a public consultation.
Part of the area has also been earmarked for a mult-billion pound theme park.
The Transport Secretary, who made the announcement in the Commons earlier said more work would now be carried out on the two remaining options; Option A at the site of the existing A282 Dartford-Thurrock crossing and Option C which would connect the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30.
There is also a variant to Option C that would additionally widen the A229 between the M2 and M20.
The Transport Secretary said:"We had over 5,700 responses to the consultation and we have carefully considered each of them. Ruling out the least attractive option now gives some clarity for local residents and businesses.
"We are committed to making a decision on the location of the new crossing as soon as possible, but we recognise that whatever crossing location is chosen it will have significant impact for people in the area and the economy. These are tough decisions to be made and must not be taken lightly.”
Feedback on the consultation showed that Option B received limited support and would frustrate plans for development in the area.
The Government is carrying out further work in the light of the consultation feedback to understand the possible impacts on the local areas of the remaining options. This work will also consider improvements to the surrounding routes and look at how impact on the environment may be mitigated.
In parallel with the decision-making on the future crossing location, the Highways Agency have started making preparations so that the crossing can be delivered as quickly as possible once the location has been decided.
In the meantime, the Government remains committed to introducing ‘free flow’ charging at the Dartford-Thurrock crossing from October 2014 to alleviate congestion in the short term. The system will remove the existing toll booths and allow users to pay remotely, similar to the London congestion charge.