project could provide at least 22,000 jobs

At least 22,000 people are expected to work on the Lower Thames Crossing, Highways England has revealed.

The government-owned company responsible for modernising, maintaining and operating England’s motorways and major A roads revealed the figure about the scheme planned for Gravesend today.

Latest photographs released by Highways England of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing. Picture: Highways England

It says the £8.2bn project – the country’s largest road scheme since the M25 was built 35 years ago – will provide a major jobs boost to Kent and Essex.

The new crossing under the River Thames will almost double road capacity between Kent and Essex, ease congestion across the region, and divert over 13 million vehicles away from the Dartford Crossing each year, currently the only river crossing east of London.

The scheme includes the longest road tunnels in the UK, 14.3 miles of new road, new viaducts, seven new green bridges, and 24 miles of new paths connecting habitats and communities.

Highways England withdrew its planning application for the project at the eleventh hour in November. A new application is expected.

HE says delivery of the project will support 10,000 jobs in the peak year of construction. Over the six-year building phase, it will employ more than 22,000 people, ranging from highly skilled engineers, architects, and designers, to other essential staff such as caterers, sign makers and IT support.

Highways England says thousands of jobs will be created by the proposed Lower Thames Crossing project. Picture: Highways England
Highways England says thousands of jobs will be created by the proposed Lower Thames Crossing project. Picture: Highways England

A skills, employment and education strategy is being developed that will enable the delivery of the crossing as well as support the long-term skills and employment needs of the surrounding communities. The strategy will be published later this spring.

LTC executive director Matt Palmer said:“By connecting people to jobs and businesses to customers, the Lower Thames Crossing will add billions to the local economy and play an important part in the government’s plan to level up the UK.

“But it also has a more urgent and crucial role to play in our economic recovery by employing more than 22,000 people over the lifetime of its construction.

“Our aim to create local jobs, support local businesses, and nurture the next generation of talent, and in partnership with our contractors we have ambitious plans. We will create hundreds of apprentices and places for graduates and are offering free training to local businesses to help them work on this, or any other major infrastructure project. The scale of opportunity is huge, and I look forward sharing more detail on our approach and plans over the next few months.”

Thames Estuary Envoy Kate Willard said: “As the largest road scheme in more than three decades, it would be hard to overstate the monumental impact the Lower Thames Crossing will have on the region.

‘The scale of opportunity is huge’

“I am delighted that local people and businesses in the Thames Estuary are being given the opportunity to work on this transformative project.”

Christian Brodie, chairman of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership which helps drive sustainable private sector-led growth and job creation, said: “Not only will this transformative project bring major employers in to the SELEP area, but it will also provide a range of opportunities for the South East’s SME community in terms of supply chain and service contracts.

“We are confident that these benefits will be particularly felt through the business communities adjacent to the crossing and will work with Highways England and our partner organisations in ensuring that this is the case.

“This is a hugely important infrastructure project for the South East that will improve our connectivity, and in turn create new opportunities for the local economies either side of the river.

“That it will also create such a significant number of jobs for the area is an incredibly welcome bonus, and particularly good news at this time when so many have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

As well committing to thousands of hours in schools, the LTC project team is also creating resources for students and teachers to help inspire the next generation of UK talent – such as career profiles of apprentices and films showcasing why the industry is so exciting.

SELEP's Christian Brodie
SELEP’s Christian Brodie

HE says it is also helping firms across Kent and Essex prepare for the opportunities available. More than 100 business have already registered on a new SME directory that will be given to the main works contractors. Hundreds more local firms have taken up offers of free training to help them win work on this or any other major project.

The company says the LTC will add billions to the UK economy by helping unlock the huge potential of the Thames Estuary with a quicker, more reliable connection between major manufacturing centres, distribution hubs and key ports and opening new markets for local businesses, creating a new economy between Kent and Essex.

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Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

Read more: All the latest news from Dartford

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