Lower Thames Crossing and South Essex councils to boost economy by connecting Brentwood to South Essex superfast broadband network

National Highways is to provide funding for around 10km of gigabit capable broadband infrastructure connecting Brentwood to the existing ASELA full fibre network. This connection will create an open access full fibre route that could be used by commercial fibre carriers to extend their full fibre investment into areas of South Essex which will benefit residents and businesses. It will also improve connectivity between public and community sites across the areas, bringing savings and better services to local taxpayers, and helping progress towards ASELA’s vision of full fibre coverage across South Essex by 2025.

ASELA has already laid over 200km of full fibre infrastructure between almost 200 public and community sites across the region. This provides the capability for a South Essex public sector network that will help improve public services, community access and save money. The network is also enabled with interconnection points ready for commercial use to support local economic growth. The ASELA digital programme is also stimulating investment from the private sector, currently worth more than £50m, encouraging fibre and broadband providers into areas previously poorly provided for.

As well as linking Brentwood to the wider network, which will benefit residents and businesses in Brentwood, the investment from National Highways will also provide the infrastructure to deliver an extensive Internet of Things network that has the potential to transform public and private sector services for residents and businesses. This could see cutting-edge smart digital solutions applied to services such as traffic and road monitoring to improve flows and improve maintenance, environment monitoring to improve air quality and early warning to vulnerable residents and ditch and gully water level monitoring to help avoid problems such as flash flooding.

Chair of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) and Leader of Brentwood Borough Council, Cllr Chris Hossack, said: “Through this partnership between Lower Thames Crossing and South Essex councils we can bring a host of benefits to our residents and businesses. These benefits will help meet both the ambitions we have as councils for the region and the ambitions National Highways has for the Lower Thames Crossing, namely boosting our local and regional economies, improving our infrastructure and bringing better services for everyone.”

Matt Palmer, Executive Director Lower Thames Crossing, said: “Modern, reliable connections are crucial to help the region and the UK reach its full potential. The government’s investment in the Lower Thames Crossing will improve journeys across the region and increase access to jobs, but also leave a lasting legacy far beyond the benefits the new road. Our funding of a new, fast fibre route will give local communities and businesses the best possible opportunity to thrive, years before the new crossing opens for traffic.”

The proposed Lower Thames Crossing is a new road and tunnel under the Thames that will ease capacity on the Dartford Crossing by taking over 13 million vehicles off it each year. The new road would improve journeys across the southeast by almost doubling road capacity across the river east of London and give the UK economy a multi-billion pound boost by creating a reliable new connection between people and jobs and the area’s ports, distribution hubs and manufacturing centres.

The funding for the broadband infrastructure from the Lower Thames Crossing is being provided through National Highways’ Designated Funds scheme, which is designed to bring lasting benefits to local communities far beyond the road network. From 2020 to 2025, National Highways will be investing £936 million to fund initiatives across the UK, in the areas of users and communities; environment and wellbeing; innovation and modernisation; and safety and congestion.

An Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.