Agenda and minutes

Lower Thames Crossing Task Force - Monday, 16th October, 2017 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Lottie Raper, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 25 September 2017.


The minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 25 September 2017 were approved as a correct record.


Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


There were no items of urgent business.


Declaration of Interests


Councillor Jones felt that all Members had an interest, in that they were representing their communities and the Lower Thames Crossing would have an enormous impact on all of Thurrock.


Election of Vice-Chair


As Councillor B. Rice had stepped down from the Task Force it was necessary to elect a new Vice-chair.


Councillor Liddiard nominated Councillor G. Rice, and this was seconded by Councillor Jones.  There were no other nominations and therefore Councillor G. Rice was declared Vice-Chair.


Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 51 KB


The Chair asked whether any suggestions for amendments had been received by the Democratic Services Officer.  It was confirmed the only request had been for clarification around substitutes, which was in progress with group leaders.


The Task Force agreed to continue with the existing Terms of Reference.



Highways England Update pdf icon PDF 5 MB


The representatives from Highways England gave a presentation which outlined the process for surveys, including the varying types and explained why they were undertaken.


The Chair noted that residents had complained of noise in Gravesham and asked if the ground surveys were responsible.  It was confirmed that ground surveys were currently underway and since the site was a fully active rifle range used by the Met Police it was only possible to carry out the works on weekends.


Councillor Jones stated that much of the land within the proposed route was farmland with good soil for crops.  He queried what purpose the soil sampling served and what the outcome would be if the tests confirmed the land was ideal for farming; would the recommendation be to leave the land for its current purpose?  Highways England would collect soil samples to form the baseline for their data which would be reported to the Secretary of State, who was responsible for assessing the scheme.


Councillor B. Little reiterated the point that the Council was against any further crossings within Thurrock.  He added that the scheme should not simply rectify its own impact but improve the current situation in Thurrock.


The Vice-Chair understood the need for weekend works on the current site in Gravesham, but urged Highways England to reassure the people of Thurrock that works would be based on weekdays wherever possible, to limit the impact on residents’ free time.  The timetable for works was still in development; however the point was noted by Highways England.


The Thames Crossing Action Group Representative highlighted the poor air quality in Thurrock was well-documented.  He sought clarification from Highways England as to how it would be possible to mitigate against air pollution on open air roads.  Air Quality monitoring and traffic modelling would be undertaken to identify any expected impact, the areas covered would be wider than those monitored by the Council but the data would be comparable.


The Independent Technical Advisor on Environmental Issues asked whether noise monitoring would be spot checks or long-term data collection, and whether the Council could have input into the process.  The details were still being discussed and the process would not commence until Spring 2018, but Thurrock could express its views in the response to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Scoping Report.  The Independent Technical Advisor on Environmental also noted that ecology surveys were subject to time constraints and sought reassurance that it was all in hand.  Ecology surveys required two years’ worth of data and therefore they had been progressed earlier.  All others had been well timetabled.


The Director of Public Health questioned the procedure if landholders refused consent for access for surveys.  He also asked where the data results would be published and what type of result might impact upon the route choice.  It was always the preferred procedure that consent was obtained from landowners; however under S53 of the Planning Act 2008 Highways England had certain powers if that consent was withheld.  The results would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Environmental and Air Quality Issues pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:


The Independent Technical Advisor on Environmental Issues and the Assistant Director of Highways & Transportation outlined the coverage of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Scoping Report and its role within the national infrastructure planning process.


The Director of Public Health felt the Council should stress the importance of a full health impact assessment, rather than having it fall within the Air Quality and Noise Pollution assessments.  The Thurrock Business Representative did not believe Highways England would be able to avoid a full assessment given the enormity of the project.  The Independent Technical Advisor on Environmental Issues advised that this should form part of the Council’s response to the EIA Scoping Report.


Councillor Jones agreed with the points highlighted as of importance to Thurrock and felt the scheme description would also be paramount, to understand the proposed location of slip-roads and junctions to fully assess the impact.  He then asked who would be responsible for the placement of diffusion tubes.  Highways England would select the locations but Thurrock Council could review the choices and request additional data if necessary.  Councillor Jones felt it should be the Local Authority who decided the location of diffusion tubes.  Councillor B. Little requested clarification upon the length of time data should be collected via diffusion tubes.  He had been led to believe data should be trended for 2 years.  The Independent Technical Advisor for Environmental Issues confirmed that the tubes collected data one month at a time, and for the data to be statistically relevant it should be collected for at least a year.  Sometimes data was only collected over three months however discussions with Highways England suggested data would be collected for a year.  Councillor B. Little stressed that, given seasonal variation and the effects of different weather conditions, the assessment could not be fully carried out in three months.


Councillor B. Little also queried whether major issues such as high winds, significant congestion and the effects of Christmas shopping at lakeside, or security closures at the dock could be included within the scoping report.  Though not every day occurrences they were frequent enough to be of note.


The Vice-Chair agreed that the scheme description would be of great importance to the Local Authority.  He wanted to see tunnels in highly populated areas, Thurrock saw the worst air quality figures outside of London and there should be careful consideration.  While it was accepted that the Council was fully against the proposal for an additional crossing it would be necessary to ensure that, were the project to go ahead, it was in the most beneficial way to Thurrock possible and for that Members required full details.  He was keen to understand how many intersections would form part of the route.  The Independent Technical Advisor on Environmental Issues advised that those details should be covered within the scheme description.


The Chair asked how the project would fit with Government regulations regarding Climate Change.  The Task Force was advised that the impact on climate change and the carbon  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Key Milestones and Points of Influence pdf icon PDF 44 KB


The Corporate Director of Environment and Place presented the Task Force with the Key Milestones and Points of Influence to clearly outline the route of progression.


The Chair asked for an explanation of the Community Consultation response scheduled for spring 2018.  This would provide the Council with an opportunity to respond to the consultation works statement provided by Highways England, to outline whether the process was sound and voice any concerns.  Councillor Piccolo sought further clarification as the response would precede the actual consultation.  It was confirmed that it would be an opportunity to respond to works up to that point and the plans for the consultation process moving forward.


The Vice-Chair wished to ask Highways England whether the route would need to go by Chadwell-St-Mary if there were a roundabout at Tilbury, as this would serve the docks.  He reiterated that the Council opposed the proposed crossing, but stressed that these questions would need to be asked if the proposal were approved. 


The Assistant Director of Highways & Transportation advised Members that the Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping report would possibly be accompanied by a revised redline boundary.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 48 KB


The Chair opened the item by asking the Task Force to confirm their preference for start time moving forward.  It was agreed that 6pm was ideal for all Members and Co-Optees. 


The Task Force discussed the need for Highways England to be present at each meeting, and who the best representative would be.  The Chair commented that there should be a range of specialities present to ensure all questions raised could be answered.  Councillor Little reminded the Task Force that the final decisions would be down to Highways England and therefore they should be present at all meetings, with a regular, senior representative.  Councillor Piccolo agreed it would be helpful for a senior representative to be present to provide consistency and ensure that if there were any questions which needed to be answered outside of the meeting it could be monitored by Highways England.


The Thames Crossing Action Group Representative felt that there should be an agreed response date for Highways England, as some questions had been raised at the previous meeting which remained unanswered.  The Assistant Director of Highways & Transportation highlighted that some queries should be answered within the Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping report which was due to be received at the end of October, however there were some issues raised which would not be covered.


The Thames Crossing Action Group representative requested the Task Force be shown a virtual reality model of the proposed route; which had been presented to other parties.  He also requested full details regarding monies for remedial works on the current crossing to offer better scope on its usage.  The Assistant Director of Highways & Transportation clarified that those funds would be the responsibility of a separate division of Highways England than the Lower Thames Crossing team however an update could still be obtained.


The Chair also suggested other outside bodies might be invited to the Committee, such as Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth and similar organisations.  The Vice-Chair added that it might be beneficial to invite Buglife for their ecological views.