THE Government is to take a closer look at the options for a new Thames river crossing before announcing a preference.

Results of the consultation carried out last year have been published today.

And Patrick McCloughlin, the transport secretary, has announced that the Government will now look in more detail at options A, which would see a new crossing built next to the current Thurrock-Dartford one, and C which would land a new crossing somewhere between Coalhouse Fort and Tilbury Fort.

He added that the impact of free-flow tolling, which comes into force in October, will also be looked at before a decision is made.

He said: "We will now develop and appraise route options at both locations (options A and C) in order to identify a proposed solution.

"We will observe the actual effects of Dart Charge once it is introduced and work with local government, the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, businesses and other key parties to better understand aspirations for growth and implications for the road network."

"By undertaking more detailed work on route options at both locations, we will identify solutions that best meet the aspirations of Government and stakeholders, whilst demonstrating value for money."

He insisted though, that by stalling on the decision, the opening of the crossing will not be delayed. If the crossing is publicly funded, he said, then it is tsill estimated to be open by 2025.

The Government's consultation on three new river crossing options started in May last year. In December 2013, option B, which would have landed a new crossing near to Grays Beach Park, was scrapped.

A decision on which of the remaining options was preferred had been expected imminiently - with the Government coming under pressure from local politicians.

John Kent, the leader of Thurrock Council, said: "In some ways it’s pleasing to note the government is now taking the advice we’ve been giving since at least 2011 – analyse the effect of free-flow tolling before taking any decision of whether or not a new crossing is needed.

"On the other hand, because our common sense proposals were ignored initially, it has left Thurrock in limbo not knowing what the government is really thinking - a clearer steer on that thinking would have been very useful.

"This means we’ll have to maintain our campaign against both the current proposals – Option A and Option C – and we’ll keep up the pressure on government to look at alternative routes away from Thurrock and I would again urge everyone who is concerned about this to sign our online petition.

"We are putting together our detailed evidence for the Transport Select Committee investigation into strategic river crossings, but I have to emphasise, our reaction is not a NIMBY one."