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Dartford Crossing Closures

Volume 723: debated on Thursday 24 November 2022

4. What recent discussions he has had with National Highways on closures of the Dartford crossing due to protests. (902380)

The protesters’ actions at Dartford in October put drivers, police and highways agency staff in danger and caused misery to thousands of ordinary people. National Highways works closely with the police to respond robustly to these incidents and to prosecute those responsible. In my first few days in this job, I instructed National Highways to seek a further injunction to cover the M25, to deal with those protesters, and I am pleased that the Court has granted it, to defend ordinary people going about their daily business.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his answer, and I welcome him to his position. He will know that the lack of crossings east of the Thames makes the Dartford crossing particularly vulnerable to not just protesters but all other kinds of incident. Does he agree that this makes it all the more imperative that we have the lower Thames crossing built as soon as possible, to provide some resilience to the existing system?

My hon. Friend is a doughty campaigner for the lower Thames crossing. He will know that National Highways has submitted a new application for a development consent order for that crossing to the Planning Inspectorate. A decision on whether to accept the application for examination is due next Monday. As it is a live planning application, I hope he will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the substance of it at this time.