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Lower Thames Crossing: Tunnel 'can't come too soon' but government must 'suitably compensate' nearby residents, says FTA

By Chris Price

A new Lower Thames Crossing “can’t come too soon” but the government has to make sure nearby residents are adequately compensated, according to haulage campaigners.

Dealing with the growing levels of traffic heading across the English Channel – set to increase by 40% by 2030 – is a huge challenge, said Natalie Chapman, head of policy for London and the South East at the Freight Transport Association.

She was speaking on KMTV business show Chris & Co, where she also called on the government to support communities affected by the £4.4 billion tunnel due to be built over the next decade.

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How the proposed Lower Thames Crossing will look, with a bored tunnel between the villages of Chalk and Shorne to Essex

The Lower Thames Crossing will be built to the east of Gravesend – on the so-called Option C route – linking the M25 at Upminster to the A2 west of Shorne.

Ms Chapman said: “You always have to feel for people affected by new big infrastructure like this.

“One of the biggest issues is the fear of uncertainty.

“At least now there is some certainty about where it is going to go.

“Residents need more detail about exactly where the route will go and the mitigation measures that can be put in place.

“Also the government needs to swiftly suitably compensate anyone directly affected by the crossing as well.”

Ms Chapman also called on the government to give the haulage industry help with rising fuel prices while it waits for the crossing to be put in place.

The Tunbridge Wells-based Freight Transport Association estimates it costs about £1 a minute to run an HGV, with many queueing up to the Dartford Crossing.

Meanwhile, petrol and diesel have risen by 11% and 13% respectively over the last year to £1.17 and £1.20.

She said: “We are paying one of the highest levels of fuel duty within the European Union and the world.

Businesses say the new crossing will alleviate congestion at Dartford

“We are quite rightly looking at government to say ‘we need to have a level playing field’.

“We have also got to remember that we pay tax on tax. We pay VAT on the whole amount and that includes the duty as well.

“So if fuel duty goes up we pay more VAT on top of all of it.

“It quickly adds to the cost of filling up your car, buying things in the shops and running our daily lives.”

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