HC Deb 28 April 1971 vol 816 cc400-1
8. Mr. Trew

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will authorise the start of construction of the second Dartford Tunnel.

The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)

Yesterday the Dartford Tunnel Joint Committee was informed of my right hon. Friend's agreement to its building a second tunnel. It hopes to start building the tunnel next year with a view to its completion by the end of 1976.

Mr. Trew

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's announcement, which will be warmly welcomed. In view of the speed with which traffic is building up in the existing tunnel, will my hon. Friend say what can be done to shorten the estimated construction period? Second, will he encourage the tunnel committee to raise the finance for this project on the open market?

Mr. Page

It is for the tunnel committee to decide how it raises the finance. On the other matters, one has to consider the improvements to the approaches on both sides of the river, and it is no doubt a matter which will take at least up until 1976.

Mr. McCrindle

Would my hon. Friend note that from the Essex side we give a warm welcome to the announcement. But, in view of the growing pressure of traffic on that side of the existing tunnel, would he bear in mind the possibility of improving existing approach roads from the Essex side of the tunnel, thereby eliminating the mistakes committed in the first instance?

Mr. Page

This matter is under full consideration by the two county councils concerned and by the joint committee.