CONTROVERSIAL plans for a lower Thames crossing have received a major boost after they were backed by Essex County Council.

Out of the three options available, the authority’s chiefs feel Option C is the way forward.

It would connect the M2 with the A13 and the M25, between junctions 29 and 30, and would pass very close to South Ockendon, Orsett, Chadwell St Mary, West Tilbury and East Tilbury, cutting across West Tilbury Marshes.

The council has told the Department for Transport it must evaluate the impact on local infrastructure.

A spokesman said: “Option C provides the greatest economic benefit to Essex.

“It relieves congestion at the existing Dartford Crossing and provides a new strategic link between the Channel Ports, Essex and much of the UK.

“However, we have noted in our consultation response that further work is necessary to ensure the new crossing and its approach roads have a minimal impact on the environment, local residents and the local road network adjacent to the proposed crossing.”

London mayor Boris Johnson has already said he favours Option C, but South Basildon and East Thurrock MP Stephen Metcalfe said it was the worst possible option for Thurrock.

He said: “The county council’s announcement doesn’t come as any surprise to me. OptionCwill be of huge detriment and is the most invasive to Thurrock.

“The environmental impacts would be huge and I have met with ministers and the secretary of state to express my views.

“We need to look east or west of the existing crossing.

“The M25 will have reached capacity in the next 30 years, so maybe we should be looking at an outer London orbital road now.”

Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle- Price’s stance is that Thurrock can’t cope with any more pressure on its infrastructure.

She has called on the Government to revisit options D and E, which were on the cards in 2009 when talks of a new crossing were raised, and would link the M2 to Canvey, or Southend to the Isle of Grain, in Kent.

They were dismissed for this consultation.