Business leaders have called for unity behind the campaign for a new A120 following the announcement of its proposed route.

The new road, which could bring more than £1 billion to Essex, now needs to be included in the Government’s Road Investment Strategy 2.

George Kieffer, of the Haven Gateway Partnership, said the hard work was not over.

He said: “We are not at the end of the road yet.

“We have a favoured option but that does not mean it is funded or in the investment scheme. I urge you all to keep lobbying away.

“The road might not be your preferred option, however I would warn against promoting others. The moment we show so much as a tiny bit of scepticism, the government will use it against the project.”

More than 500 business in Essex signed a petition calling for the strategic route to be upgraded, and the Essex Chamber of Commerce said public opinion is strongly behind Essex County Council’s plans.

David Burch, policy director, said: “One of the things our members tell us whenever we are talking to them is about the state of the county’s road network and the need to improve it to make sure we have roads which you can go from A to B in a reasonable time.

“We fully welcome the proposals which have been unveiled.”

Mr Burch said the new road could unlock further potential at Stansted Airport and the ports of Harwich and Felixstowe.

He said: “The A120 links to the A12 and therefore to the M25 and Dartford Crossing - helping to connect Essex and its businesses together.

“Our members tell us delays at the moment can range from five minutes to an hour, or even more.

“That costs money and this is costing small businesses thousands of pounds.

“We congratulate the county council for taking this on and driving it forward.

“We will be continuing to support it and we want everybody to do the same.”

Graham Butland, leader of Braintree Council, has welcomed the announcement.

He said: “Securing improvements to the A120 is vital to unlocking growth, innovation and business investment across our district whilst helping move forward with our plan for growth.”