MILLIONS of pounds need to be ploughed into the A127 and A13 to open Southend up for business.
That is the view of the Essex Chamber of Commerce, which invited Government minister Stephen Green to visit the area yesterday to lobby for his support.
Lord Green, minister for trade and investment, called for the county’s companies to explore the possibility of exports and praised the impact of the revamped Southend Airport.
But he refused to condemn possible plans for a Thames estuary airport, which business and political leaders believe could devastate the local economy.
Lord Green said: “Clearly aviation capacity is a vital issue for this country and the south east in particular, and that is why the Government has commissioned an inquiry into the matter.
“I cannot comment further on that at the moment.”
The Government is facing mounting pressure to come up with a way of expanding the UK’s airport capacity in order to maintain the country’s status as an international hub.
In 2011, Lord Norman Foster’s published plans to build a four-runway airport on the Isle of Grain in Kent, adding flesh to the bones of London mayor Boris Johnson’s long-held advocacy for an estuary airport.
But council chiefs and traders in Southend, Canvey and Kent claimed it would ruin the economies of estuary towns and irrevocably damage habitats for wildlife.
Denise Rossiter, chief executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, and Robert Leng, the chambers’ president, spent yesterday giving Lord Green a tour of flourishing businesses in Rayleigh and Southend.
But Mr Leng was insistent that sizeable sums of money needed to be invested in the county by Whitehall if it was to fulfil its potential.
He said: “There is a great opportunity in Essex - we have a lot of factors in our favour.
“However, our road infrastructure is something that needs to be improved.
“We believe investment in the A127 and A13 would do a lot to open this area up for business, and that’s what we have been telling the minister.”