Sevenoaks MP Sir Michael Fallon has today urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to accelerate work on the Lower Thames Crossing.
The Lower Thames Crossing, which will take away 20 per cent of the Dartford Crossing traffic, is currently scheduled to open in 2027. Sir Michael has urged HM Treasury to speed up purchase of the tunnelling machines and compensation for property owners by indemnifying the Highways Agency against the risk of project cancellation.
Sir Michael said: “The Lower Thames Crossing should be considered as a national priority. Long queues at the Dartford Crossing are frustrating for everybody and are damaging our businesses. We cannot wait nine years for relief.”
Yesterday (31st October), I contributed to the Budget debate, which you can read in full here: http://www.michaelfallon.org.uk/?page_id=2191
I welcome the Chancellor’s plans. The additional resources given to UK Export Finance and the significant expenditure on research and development will be vital if we are to grow our national capability.
Three key areas, however, require more attention.
First, we must speed up the development of critical infrastructure. Bureaucracy too often delays important projects: our airports, ports and river crossings must be built more quickly if we are to make a success of Brexit.
Second, the Government must look again at its funding for schools and skills. The increase in pupil numbers, and huge increase in pupils with additional needs, education authorities such as Kent County Council have to divert resources away from the main schools funding block to deal with the demand.
Finally, the current savings ratio, at 4.9% of disposable income, is the lowest since records began. One painless way of boosting savings is to simplify and encourage share schemes: create a more streamlined approach; open them up to companies owned by private equity; reduce holding periods and improve the tax treatment of shares. We know increasing employee’s involvement in company’s boosts productivity – it’s time we make the schemes simpler and more engaging.
Michael has welcomed the Department of Transport’s recent announcement regarding the new Lower Thames Crossing.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that the Government’s preferred route for a new Lower Thames Crossing is east of Gravesend and Tilbury. The development could create more than 6,000 jobs and boost the economy by over £8 billion.
The Transport Secretary also committed to investing £10 million to improve traffic flow at the existing Dartford crossing. Highways England estimates that the Lower Thames Crossing will cost up to £6.2 billion to develop.
Michael said: ‘Increasing capacity across the Thames will unlock huge economic potential. The proposals strike a balance between minimising the impacts on local communities and ensuring value for taxpayers’ money. There is now greater potential for investment opportunities, for new housing, and for businesses to grow, which will create even more employment opportunities in the region. This is a stamp of confidence for Kent, but I will continue to make representations on behalf of my constituents as the development progresses.’