South East LEP backs Lower Thames Crossing Route 3

After listening to the views of businesses and the local authorities across its area, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has given its backing to Route 3 for a new Lower Thames Crossing, creating a new junction on the M25 and linking with Kent, east of Gravesend.

South East LEP backs Lower Thames Crossing Route 3

After listening to the views of businesses and the local authorities across its area, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has given its backing to Route 3 for a new Lower Thames Crossing, creating a new junction on the M25 and linking with Kent, east of Gravesend.

The LEP as a business-focused organisation,championing economic growth in Kent, East Sussex, Essex, Medway, Southend and Thurrock, actively canvassed its partners, stakeholders and businesses to help it reach its conclusion.

The primary concern for businesses and local partners in the area is that a decision to go ahead is made as quickly as possible and that following a decision, steps are taken to proceed to the construction stage as quickly as possible and the new crossing is open by 2025 or earlier.

Recently appointed Chairman of SELEP, Christian Brodie, said: “The Lower Thames Crossing is an infrastructure of local, national and international importance. It is clear that we need to add resilience to the road network in this area in a way which works for our businesses and for the long term growth of the national economy.

“Businesses in the SELEP area strongly support Highway England’s proposal for a bored tunnel at Location C, adopting Route 3. Their priority is to ensure a decision to proceed is taken as soon as possible and that this is accompanied by complementary investment in the area’s road network.”

To read the full details of the SELEP submission click here

SELEP is asking Highways England to include a new junction providing a direct link to the Port of Tilbury. This will future-proof significant expansion plans and remove traffic from local roads - improving connectivity into and out of the port as well as the local area.

SELEP also highlighted the need to address the so-called C Variant option, including upgrades to the A229 Bluebell Hill, with the possibility of free-flow slip roads at the M2 and M20 junctions. It also proposed new junctions with the A13 and M25, capacity for which must be fit for purpose.

SELEP has also called on Highways England to construct the tunnels as three lanes in each direction, plus an emergency lane from the outset, rather than the two lane solution proposed.

As part of its submission to Highways England, SELEP has stressed that it is keen to avoid any changes which would delay a decision on the new Lower Thames Crossing. However it has argued that wider strategic transport and infrastructure issues should be addressed and included.

SELEP believes a number of transport programmes should be pursued in parallel, as included in the responses to the consultation by Kent County Council, Essex County Council and other partnerships which support SELEP’s activities.

In Kent this parallel programme would include:
• Improving M2 junction 7 to increase capacity between the M2 and A2;
• Dualling sections of the A2 specifically at Whitfield and Lydden;
• Improving M20 junction 7 to provide an improved link between the A249 and M20; and
• Improving M2 junction 5 to provide improved flow between the M2 and A249 and improve another strategic link between the M2 and M20.

In Essex it would include:
• Improving M25 junction 28 to ease important anti-clockwise movements; and
• Improving the A12/A130 junction at Fairglen and Howe Green, which is currently a major bottleneck on the A12 and is also forecast to see increased traffic flow as a result of the new crossing.
.