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Business leaders get insight into Lower Thames Crossing amid claims residents are ‘left in the dark’

PUBLISHED: 14:48 19 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:48 19 October 2017

CGI of the Lower Thames Crossing on the Gravesham side

CGI of the Lower Thames Crossing on the Gravesham side

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Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce met with Highways England

Fresh calls have been made for work to progress on the Lower Thames Crossing site in the Gravesham countryside.

Business leaders from the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, which backed Option C, a bored tunnel from Gravesham into Thurrock, met with Highways England representatives last week to discuss how work was progressing.

The meeting came days after campaigners complained residents were being “left in the dark” after early drilling work for the tunnel got underway without warning.

Jo James, chief executive of Kent Invicta, said: “We have always backed the call for a new Lower Thames Crossing and it was reassuring to hear that, despite concerns over future government expenditure, the treasury has committed funding for the team working on the project to drive it forward through the planning and community engagement process.”

The crossing is expected to cost around £6billion and will be built by 2026, to alleviate some of the traffic problems at the Dartford Crossing.

According to Kent Invicta, last Thursday’s presentation sought to address concerns among many businesses and local politicians that the impact on the wider road and transport network was being addressed.

But councillor Bryan Sweetland, a member of the Lower Thames Crossing Association, a group vehemently opposed to the crossing, last week told us residents were being “left in the dark,” adding, “Highways England doesn’t seem to listen to our concerns, and right now they’re not telling us anything either.”

The group has consistently raised concerns that the crossing will not fix existing problems at Dartford, instead posing an environmental and traffic threat to the Gravesham countryside.

Highways England said it was “communicating regularly” with locals.

Tim Jones, project director for Highways England, said: “The crossing is an integral part of the future road network, serving not just Kent, Thurrock and Essex but to the UK more widely.

“Its impact will ripple out north and south on both sides of the river, improving our country’s ability to move goods, services and people nationwide and beyond to mainland Europe by better serving our ports.”

Highways England plan to hold further engagement with the community and local businesses during 2018 and members of Kent Invicta will have the opportunity to comment on the proposals then.

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