KCC Corporate Director for Growth, Environment and Transport Barbara Cooper said:
“We welcome the announcement on the route for the Lower Thames Crossing, putting to rest the uncertainty for residents in Kent, Thurrock and Essex.
“It is now essential that Highways England delivers the scheme at pace as this key piece of infrastructure that relieves the international corridor from Dover to the Midlands and North is needed now, and any delays to the delivery timetable will be detrimental to the UK economy.
“Kent County Council has been campaigning for a new Lower Thames Crossing to be built for more than 15 years to relieve the congestion and overloading at the existing Dartford Crossing, which with peak flows often exceeding 162,000 movements per day has long exceeded its design capacity of 135,000 vehicles a day.
“The Dartford Crossing is closed over 300 times per year for an average of 30 minutes, but it typically takes three to five hours for the roads to return to normal following a closure.
“A new crossing will provide much needed network resilience and create a new strategic route from Dover to the Midlands and the North, essential for this international gateway with an average of 10,800 HGV movements per day through the Channel ports, which is growing year on year and is forecast to continue to grow by 5% per year.
“A new crossing will deliver economic prosperity for Kent, the South East and the wider UK, supporting an estimated 6,000 new jobs and add 12.7 billion to the local economy.
“We strongly reiterate the necessity for Highways England to deliver the upgrades to the connections between the M20 and M2 – including the A229 and A249 – and the wider network improvements desperately needed along the A2/M2 to support the splitting of traffic between the M2/A2 and M20/A20 corridors.
“We are pleased that Government has selected the Western Southern Link, which was our own preferred route on the Kent side of the crossing, as this will minimise the environmental impacts and avoids the village of Shorne.
“The chosen route has greater opportunities for tunnelling or using cuttings for part of the route to reduce the noise and visual impact.
“We will provide input to the plans as they are developed to ensure that any negative impacts are mitigated and so that Kent’s residents get the best deal from this significant investment in our infrastructure.
“What must happen now is for Government to give reassurance to those affected by the new road and so we will continue to insist that a generous compensation package is provided for property owners affected.
“We fully appreciate the distress that this proposal has caused to the local community but due to the transport and economic benefits that a new Lower Thames Crossing will provide, we believe this is the right decision for the county, and indeed the country.”