The decision given by the Secretary of State for Transport that Option B for a new Lower Thames Crossing will be abandoned was not entirely unexpected by CPRE Protect Kent. This option had always had very limited support from any parties involved and would have scuppered plans to build the new Paramount Theme Park—investment which North Kent is crying out for on a largely brownfield site. When the announcement was made, we were encouraged to hear that the Government were committed to postponing their final decision until the impacts of high speed tolling had been fully examined. We have always said that the proposals to build a new Lower Thames crossing are premature, due to the many different factors which may well see a reduction in the amount of traffic currently using the crossing. High speed tolls will play a significant part in freeing the crossing of its bottleneck, whilst the London Gateway port will allow a large proportion of road freight to be transported to Essex, and beyond, by sea, reducing the number of HGV’s on Kent’s roads.
Whilst this initial battle has been won, both options A and C are still alive and on the proposals table with Government. We believe that both of these options are jumping the gun, and we hope that once the many bottleneck relieving features are implemented and taken account of the Government will drop these road building plans.