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Dover’s businesses back new Lower Thames Crossing

Members of Dover Business Forum, the recently formed business group created to champion and celebrate the economic growth of the district, have urged the government not to overlook upgrading the road links to the town when considering the best route for a new Lower Thames Crossing.

At a meeting hosted by Discovery Park, the group of businesses with a combined turnover in excess of £386.4m, came out in favour of a route for the new crossing east of Gravesend, put forward by Highways England as part of an eight week public consultation.

Forum member Matthew Jaenicke, Managing Director of Viking Recruitment said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to improve the country’s strategic connections. It is crucial that the work includes upgrading the A2/M2 link to the Port of Dover to support the movement of freight and visitor traffic through our county.

“There is major commercial investment and house building under way in Dover, and we need to have a transport network that supports the area’s economic growth.

“Although some miles away, a new Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend would play a significant part in helping us attract more jobs and business to the area.”

The group heard how the Dartford Crossing currently handles an average of 140,000 vehicles a day and is already operating at 108% of capacity. The Department for Transport has predicted that roll-on roll-off freight traffic will increase by 101% and the Port of Dover expected to handle 3.8 million vehicles by 2030.

Tim Waggott, Chief Executive of the Port of Dover, and a member of the Forum, added: “Alongside the need to increase productivity and transform the Thames Gateway regeneration area, the Lower Thames Crossing must be seen as a strategic investment to improve the resilience of UK-European trade flows. Failure to invest will choke this crucial pan-European business corridor within which the ports of Dover, London and Medway along with Eurotunnel operate, and this will damage UK PLC.

“The Port of Dover continues to handle record volumes of freight vehicle traffic with strong projected growth and no substitutable capacity elsewhere. The existing Dartford crossings are already a major bottleneck, operating at over-capacity and acting as a break on national productivity.”

Dover Business Forum brings together the larger businesses in the district with the aim of improving the quality of life for local people by strengthening the performance of the economy, and acts as a voice for the larger employers.

Members have collectively invested more than £400m locally over the past five years. Further millions are earmarked for the district thanks to the development of the St James retail and leisure scheme, Dover Western Docks Revival, Whitfield, Discovery Park and Betteshanger Sustainable Parks.

The forum is urging local firms to to leave their views on the preferred route directly with Highways England.

Issued by Maxim PR on behalf of the Dover Business Forum

Posted on 17/02/2016