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Business coalition makes case for Lower Thames Crossing to Chancellor

The Port of Dover is among 20 leading transport, commerce, retail and development bodies to press the Government for a new Lower Thames Crossing this week. Read their joint letter….

Dear Chancellor,

Increasing growth and productivity with the Lower Thames Crossing

As a vital tool for economic success across the UK, we are calling on the Government to take swift action and make a decision on the Lower Thames Crossing route. A new crossing would make a significant contribution to two of Britain’s most significant economic challenges: the need to increase productivity and levels of exporting.

Public expenditure needs to catch up and keep up with private sector developments in the South East. From the three port estate extensions at the Port of Tilbury and the development of the £1.5bn super-port at London Gateway, to the 10% year-on-year freight traffic growth at key Channel gateways where Eurotunnel and ports such as Dover (along with sister ports in France) are making major capacity investments, in addition to the investment at London Southend Airport.

The Channel, London and Medway port operations account for in excess of a quarter of the UK’s GDP in trade. That trade, combined with other business traffic, currently flows through the highly unreliable Dartford crossings, which suffer from over 300 standstill delays per annum. The Department for Transport estimates traffic through this international business corridor will grow by 41% over the next 20 years. It is imperative that we have high quality infrastructure to help alleviate this bottleneck to maintain fluidity and allow us to boost trade and compete with the Continent.

Businesses across the South East, Midlands and the North need reliable journey times to make critically important operational decisions which rely on just-in-time processes for trade and commerce. This investment will support planned growth and will enhance the ability of these regions to attract future investment.

In addition, housing is fundamental to the local economic strategy to deliver new jobs, and more needs to be done urgently to accelerate the housing delivery we all seek. National and local government must seize the moment to ensure that infrastructure and economic growth goes hand-in-hand with housing growth. The Lower Thames Crossing would support the sustainable development of the area and ensure that existing communities gain their share of the region’s success.

We greatly value that Highways England have held a public consultation earlier this year. We stress that momentum should be maintained and that a final decision on the preferred route be made sooner rather than later. The business community remains loud, clear and unified in support of a new crossing at Location C, east of Gravesend. We have large investment decisions pending the outcome of this crucial project and we are concerned that a prolonged decision will cause uncertainty in a fragile, but growing economy.

We urge the Government to make a swift decision on the preferred route, with a firm timetable and financial package for its delivery.

DP World London Gateway, Port of Tilbury, Port of Dover, Port of London Authority, Navigator Terminals, London Southend Airport, Eurotunnel, Claridon Group, Freight Transport Association, Road Haulage Association, South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Essex Chamber of Commerce, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, intu Lakeside, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, The Kent Developers Group, Glenny, St Modwen, and Cogent Land LLP.