Essex County Council has backed newly unveiled plans for a Thames Crossing which is set to create thousands of jobs.
Highways England this week announced the Lower Thames Crossing plans, linking Tilbury in Essex with Gravesend in Kent, as its preferred option (known as Option C).
This option proposes that the scheme would run from the end of the M2, crossing the river just east of Gravesend and Tilbury and joining the M25 between junctions 29 and 30.
The move has been welcomed by Essex County Council for its potential to drive economic growth and create around 5,000 jobs.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council said: “The importance and urgency of proceeding with a new Lower Thames Crossing cannot, in the view of Essex County Council, be overstated.
“We are delighted that this Government is now moving forward swiftly on this issue with a clear preference.
“Essex County Council is, of course, happy to work with Basildon and Brentwood Councils and, indeed, Thurrock to see what the best option is to support economic growth, reduce congestion and achieve improved environmental mitigation.”
It will be the first new crossing of the Thames east of London since the Queen Elizabeth II bridge opened 25 years ago.
Subject to the necessary funding and planning approvals, Highways England anticipates that the new crossing would open in 2025, if publicly funded.
If private funding is also used to meet the costs of the project, it anticipates the crossing being open by 2027.
A consultation seeking public views on the proposals will run until Thursday, 24 March with 24 public exhibitions being held at venues across Kent and Essex over the coming months.
To find out more or contribute to Highways England’s consultation please visit www.lower-thames-crossing.co.uk