THE LEADER of Gravesham Council is "horrified" that a potential third crossing over the River Thames may affect Gravesend.

Councillor Mike Snelling hit out after a study into different ways traffic flow and safety could be improved was released by the Government.

Cllr Snelling said: “While we accept that there is a case for increasing the capacity of road links across the Thames we are horrified that the prospect of a third crossing east of Gravesend to Tilbury remains as one of the options.

“The report itself says this would have ‘considerable environmental impacts’ and it certainly could be devastating for the residents of Chalk, Shorne and Higham.”

This option would go from east of Tilbury to east of Gravesend to the M20.

The report, which was published yesterday by transport minister Andrew Adonis also included two other options for a third crossing, one at the site of the existing crossing and the other between the Swanscombe Peninsula and the A1089.

Mr Adonis said: "The Dartford-Thurrock river crossing is a vital transport link for both the national and South East economies which has brought huge economic benefits and opportunities.

“However, many more vehicles want to use the crossing than it can accommodate and congestion here is likely to get worse in the future unless something is done.”

It also recommended that further work should be carried out to consider whether improving the layout of the toll plazas or applying one-way tolling on the existing crossing could deliver improvements to the flow of traffic in the short term.

Cllr Snelling added: “We note that the report also calls for improvements to the existing toll plaza and would urge the government to commit to doing something about tolls – including keeping its pledge to abolish tolls now that the bridge has been paid – to reduce congestion before even contemplating the ruination of parts of rural Gravesham.”

The Department for Transport will now move to the next stage and look in more detail at the shortlist of potential options for tackling congestion and improving capacity across the Thames.