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Swanscombe Peninsula to be ruled out of Lower Thames Crossing decision

PUBLISHED: 09:46 12 December 2013 | UPDATED: 10:02 12 December 2013

The QEII Bridge at Dartford is open again

The QEII Bridge at Dartford is open again

Archant

Government statement thought to rule out Option B

The announcement on the Lower Thames Crossing today (December 12) is believed to contain news that the Government has ruled out locating the crossing at Swanscombe Peninsula.

The location, known as Option B, would have connected the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula with the A1089 in Tilbury, Essex.

The proposal for Option B has been heavily criticised throughout the consultation process as it would interfere with plans for a new theme park in the area - set to bring £2billion worth on investment and create 27,000 jobs.

The group behind the proposed Paramount theme park had indicated that placing the new Lower Thames Crossing in Swanscombe would force them to re-think their location.

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson says he is delighted by the Government’s decision to rule out building a new Lower Thames Crossing in Dartford’s Swanscombe Peninsula.

He said: “This will be welcome news for local residents and for developers who are keen to make a significant investment in that area.

“ The Government has recognised the huge potential that exists in Swanscombe and the potential for jobs and the future economic benefits for the Dartford area.

“The Swanscombe peninsular, right next to the High Speed 1 station at Ebbsfleet, has enormous potential. Paramount is very keen to build a theme park on the Swanscombe peninsular, which would generate significant jobs and revitalise the area. I am really pleased that the announcement today will help to facilitate this.”

The decision means that the new crossing is set to be placed either at Option A - which would see a new crossing at the existing Dartford/Thurrock crossing site, or Option C - a new crossing that would connect further down the Thames on the eastern side of Gravesend.

During the consultation Mr Johnson strongly opposed any option for a Lower Thames Crossing that goes through Dartford or Swanscombe.

He said: “People in Dartford are fed up with the misery that the Dartford crossing has given them over many years. We don’t want another crossing in this area and this decision does at least rule out one of the locations where we could have had an additional crossing.”

It is now thought that there will be further environmental studies of the remaining two options before a final deceision will be made.

The delay on a fninal decision will also allow time for the free-flow tolls to be installed at the existing Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.

Earlier this year it was confirmed that a £367 million contract to deliver the new automated tolls system was signed.

It is hoped the removal of the barriers will ease congestion at the crossing, which is a notorious traffic trouble spot.

The Highways Agency has awarded the seven-year contract to French motorway operator Sanef to design, implement, deliver and operate the tolling system. New technology will allow drivers to use the crossing without having to stop at the barriers to hand over payment.

Road users will instead be able to pay over the phone, by text, online and at retail outlets before they use the crossing.

Roads minister Stephen Hammond said the Government was delivering on its promise to provide improvements that will help traffic flow better at the crossing.

“This will help thousands of drivers who use the crossing every day, and benefit both the local and national economy,” he said.

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