Chancellor George Osborne has been urged to prioritise the building of a “much-needed” Lower Thames Crossing to ease the current bottlenecks and rising levels of congestion affecting the Thames Estuary.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has today joined key organisations in calling on the government to set a schedule for delivery of the new crossing in its Autumn Statement.
FTA chief executive David Wells signed a letter to the chancellor highlighting transport issues affecting the Thames Estuary, particularly at the Dartford Crossing where congestion is predicted to reach pre-Dart Charge levels by 2020 according to Department for Transport modelling.
The FTA said a new crossing is urgently needed by the logistics industry to ease the current bottlenecks and provide resilience, especially when there is an issue at the Dartford tunnel or bridge. The cost of delays to transport operators equates to £1 for every minute an HGV sits in traffic.
Wells said: “Congestion costs our industry millions of pounds every year and the lack of an alternative to the Dartford Crossing isn’t just a problem for the South-East.
“Businesses across the UK rely on deliveries of materials to and from Europe and the M25 is the main gateway to the Midlands and the North. We need a further river crossing to increase capacity and make journey times more reliable. There could be no better way for the government to demonstrate its commitment to the northern powerhouse.”
The letter has been sent by the FTA in collaboration with a number of organisations including the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Eurotunnel, the Port of Dover, London Chamber of Commerce & Industry.