The Rt Hon Lord Heseltine CH
C/O The House of Lords
Dear Lord Heseltine
Re: Kent County Council Report on the Thames Estuary: Opportunities and Challenges
We note that Mr Paul Carter CBE, Leader of Kent County Council, recently sent you a copy of the above report in your capacity as Head of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission. Unfortunately, KCC’s report contains a fundamental error.
In his foreword, Mr Carter says “I greatly welcome the Government’s commitment to a Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend”. A similar statement is made in section 2.2.1 of the report, which includes the statement “We strongly welcome the Government’s support for a Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend.”
We must point out that, whilst this may well be the personal preference of Mr Carter, this statement is erroneous and misleading. In fact no decision has been made regarding the location of the Lower Thames Crossing at this stage. The result of the recent consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing has not been published yet.
In meetings we have had with Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, and with Andrew Jones, the Transport Minister, they both categorically stated that no decision has been made regarding the location of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, and that Dartford is still on the table. Alan Jones repeated this in a recent Commons statement.
We have written to Mr Carter, requesting him to correct his statement, but would take this opportunity to make the situation absolutely clear to you and the Thames Estuary Growth Commission, should Mr Carter fail to correct his misleading statement.
We would also take this opportunity to point out that we do not believe that a new crossing east of Gravesend would address the congestion at Dartford. Highways England’s own traffic forecasts support this view, forecasting that traffic volumes at Dartford will be 98% of current levels even with
a new crossing east of Gravesend. Rather than promoting new business opportunities, we believe that the ongoing congestion on the M25 and the added traffic in Kent will hinder existing business.
We would therefore urge you to look at Highways England’s Option A14, which is a scheme for a dual tunnel from south of the A2 to north of the A13, thus at last completing the M25, and completely bypassing the existing crossing and approach roads. This would greatly reduce traffic volumes (and pollution) at the existing crossing, bringing much-needed relief to the long-suffering people of Dartford and Thurrock, while drastically improving business links across the country.
Whilst writing, we would ask the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission to take due account of safeguarding the environment and the general wellbeing of the people of Kent and Essex in your important task of promoting much-needed regeneration in the Thames Estuary area.
On behalf of abridge2far.