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Swancombe residents breathe a sigh of relief at Thames crossing decision
SWANSCOMBE residents have breathed a sigh of relief after plans for a new Thames crossing through the village were thrown out.
The Government threw out the proposal to connect the A2 to the A1089 road, north of Tilbury Docks, over fears it could jeopardise plans for the huge Paramount Park development which could create 27,000 new jobs.
The news has been met with happiness but also frustration as North Kent residents continue to await a decision on Option A which would see another crossing built next to the current Dartford-Thurrock crossing and Option C, which would connect the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 and would land between Coalhouse and Tilbury forts and travel north towards the Orsett Cock junction of the A13.
The other two options are to be studied further by the Department of Transport and environmental impacts will be looked into.
Graham Blew, town clerk for Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town Council, said: "We are very pleased that Option B has been dropped, but annoyed extra options were not presented like links from the ports.
"Option C is our preferred choice of the three but we are very frustrated at the timing and that there is going to be further delays.
"We welcome the application into Paramount Park because of its employment options for Swanscombe but we also have reservations.
"It needs to be correctly and we need to make sure there is enough infrastructure in place."
Dartford councillor Bryan Read, lead member for urban regeneration in Swanscombe and secretary of the residents association, said: "We have been pushing for this since day one.
"It was a silly option from the start especially with the plans for the theme park which we support.
"We have considered all the options deeply and we get affected everytime there is something wrong at the Dartford crossing.
"We are most supportive of Option C or something further down the estuary, we think thats the best thing for everyone in Kent."
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "We had over 5,700 responses to the consultation and ruling out the least attractive option now gives some clarity for residents and businesses.
"We are committed to making a decision on the location of the new crossing as soon as possible, but we recognise that whatever crossing location is chosen it will have significant impact for people in the area and the economy.
"These are tough decisions to be made and must not be taken lightly."
The Government remains committed to introducing free flow charging at the Dartford-Thurrock crossing by October 2014 to help with congestion in the short term.
The new decision has been met with mixed reaction from local politicians and campaigners. Jeremy Kite, leader of Dartford Council said: "I’m very pleased that the uncertainty over a crossing at Swanscombe has been lifted.
"It will do much to reassure potential backers of the Paramount Park proposals as well as lift the worry from residents in the area.
"Almost the entire growth and business community of Kent have made clear that Option C is the only sensible route."
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson said: "The investment we are looking at for Swanscombe its great.
"It would be wrong to bulldoze through Kent without looking at the environmental impact, getting the decision right is the most important thing."
Gravesham council leader John Burden welcomed the news but made clear he still isn't happy with the options.
He added: "Our position remains, that any decision on a new crossing is premature if it is taken before the effects of removing the Dartford toll booths are known.
"The other two options, at Dartford and east of Gravesend, are to be studied further by the Department of Transport.
"The latter would have a devastating impact on the green belt and threaten the villages of Chalk, Shorne and Higham including one of Kent’s best country parks.
"I want the government to show more common sense and put off the final decision until after the Dartford toll booths are removed to ascertain the real scale of the problem.
"A crossing east of Gravesend would potential endanger important environmental sites and lay to waste historic communities.
"Worse, it would open the door to developers who would use this new corridor to fill in the countryside.
"Once such a disastrous decision is taken the area would be blighted forever."
Gravesham MP Adam Holloway was disappointed a proper decision had not been made on the crossing and vowed to fight for local residents.
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