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Lower Thames Crossing campaigners call for investigation into Highways England

PUBLISHED: 09:21 03 August 2016

South Portal Lower Thames Crossing

South Portal Lower Thames Crossing

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Campaigners are calling for an investigation into the change of costs of a new Dartford bridge

Campaigners in north Kent against a proposed Thames crossing east of Gravesend have called for Highways England to be investigated by the National Audit Office.

A spokesman from the Lower Thames Crossing Association, which campaigns against a crossing being built in the Gravesham countryside, highlighted perceived changes in Highways England’s quoted costs.

Bob Lane from the campaign group said: “In 2013, the estimated cost of a new bridge at Dartford was only a third of the cost of a new crossing east of Gravesend, but by 2016 the cost of a simple bridge at Dartford had spiralled to 90 per cent of the cost of a new crossing east of Gravesend.”

“At the same time, the benefit/cost ratios for Gravesend, which are supposed to be a measure of value for money, had mysteriously increased by 100 per cent despite there being no material changes to the costs or benefits.

“Many people think that the costs and value for money ratios have been deliberately manipulated to justify Highways England’s preferred option.”

The role of the National Audit Office includes checking on government departments and public sector bodies such as Highways England, to make sure their statements are true and fair, and to audit major transport projects.

The office has reportedly told campaigners it is looking into the issues raised.

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