Agenda and minutes

Lower Thames Crossing Task Force - Monday, 22nd January, 2018 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 77 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 18 December 2017.


The resident representative noted an error on page 6 of the agenda.  The minutes of item 30: Highways England Update read ‘The representative from Highways England advised there were any constraints around height or location’ and so she sought clarity as to the correct meaning.  It was confirmed that the Democratic Services Officer would clarify.


The minutes should read ‘The representative from Highways England advised there were many constraints around height or location’.


Subject to those amendments, the minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 18 December 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


It was declared that, as residents of Thurrock, all Members of the Task Force had an interest in the Lower Thames Crossing Scheme.


Update on liaison with Highways England pdf icon PDF 43 KB


The Corporate Director of Place informed the Task Force that the update provided a summary of liaison between Council Officers and Highways England, as promised at the previous meeting of the Task Force to ensure transparency.  It had been agreed that the Task Force agendas would be themed moving forward to help focus discussion and whilst Officers would need to have technical meetings with Highways England they would take a clear lead from the Task Force as to its key priorities.


There had also been meetings between Highways England and various Ward Councillors.  The Chair invited any such Ward Councillors present to outline the key points of these meetings to the Task Force.


Councillor Jones felt that his meeting had been positive in terms of plans for public meetings and engagement opportunities moving forward.  He stressed that he wanted Thurrock to be given the same considerations as Kent in terms of making the scheme more pleasing to the eye through tunnels and banks and also reminded Highways England that residents were angry about the scheme so it was crucial that the consultation process would ensure they were listened to and informed regarding key issues such as the elevation of the route, noise and pollution.


Councillor Little agreed that meetings with Highways England had been fruitful; it was possible to see changes from the original design in the most recent map.  There were still some issues but it would be more productive to cover those in more detail at the themed meetings moving forward.  He also urged as many Ward Councillors as possible to attend and actively engage with the process.


Councillor Liddiard added that he was very keen to look at the expected traffic flows for the future particularly in his area, Tilbury.  He also wanted to ensure that spoil from the tunnelling would be disposed of in the best way, without too high a level of HGV movements.  He stressed the need for Ward Councillors to be aware before works began that would directly affect their wards so they could pre-warn residents, which would generally make them calmer.  The meeting had been positive and Highways England took away several points of concern had he mentioned.


The resident representative queried the outcome of Members being asked for their key priorities following the previous meeting and was advised that this had informed Item 7: Task Force Priorities.



Highways England Action List

This item is to follow.


Representatives from Highways England outlined the key points of the updated action list.  In addition to responding to the action list they had agreed to update Ward Councillors of anything pertaining to the scheme which would affect their ward directly.  Further on in the agenda they would update the Task Force on areas of influence within the scheme, though some aspects would be more technical and would be covered within meetings with Council Officers.


Councillor Allen noted that the scheme would cost approximately £6bn and asked whether contacts would be put out for tender or if there was a specific company already chosen.  He echoed his comments from previous meetings that he felt it would be best to spend more in the scheme to reduce impacts on the health and wellbeing of residents as much as possible.  Members heard that the full details of the procurement would be significant.  A notice had been put out for suppliers to register their interest, with a deadline of 31 January 2018, which would be followed by a number of procurement activities and one-to-ones.  The procurement process, for both finance and contractors, would officially begin in autumn 2018 and continue through to 2021.


Councillor Little expressed concern at discussing plans for the A1089 as he felt it muddied the waters.  Until the scheme, if it went ahead, were operational the full impact upon the local road network could not be known and these conversations should therefore not be underway at this point in time.


Review of Task Force Priorities pdf icon PDF 67 KB


The Corporate Director of Place informed the Task Force that, following the previous meeting, Members had been asked to provide their top areas of focus.  The responses had been collated into thematic areas and the list of priorities would be important moving forward to assist focus discussions and provide a steer for Officers in technical meetings with Highways England regarding the scheme impact and potential mitigation measures.  With this in mind Members of the Task Force were asked to confirm that they were satisfied that their responses were reflected accurately and suggest any amendments if necessary.


The Chair suggested that the item be added to the work programme for the next meeting, as more details regarding the visual impact of the scheme would be brought forward then.


Highways England Update: How and When can Thurrock shape Proposals? pdf icon PDF 1 MB


Representatives from Highways England presented the update, to provide clarity around the level of engagement and influence opportunities available to the Council and Task Force.  Positive interaction would help the shape the project and provide suitable mitigation.  The Task Force heard that the scheme was still under development; the alignment had already been lowered from the original proposal to mitigate the visual impact and everything would be looked at in greater detail, providing Thurrock Council with an opportunity to engage. 


There were some ‘Project led decisions’ which were unmovable.  Highways England would be happy to discuss these areas with Officers, however they were not subject to much influence such as the viaduct over the Mardyke Valley. 


The Chair sought clarification around this point.  He questioned whether there was any possibility of tunnelling under the Orsett Fens and it was confirmed that this would not be possible.  The Chair welcomed a definitive answer as Members needed to be told what would be unmoving.


The resident representative noted that the horizontal/vertical alignment of the route was listed as a ‘project led decision’.  She questioned the point further as this implied that local communities would have no say on whether sections of the route were tunnelled or put within cut and cover, as they had previously been led to believe.  Highways England advised that the topography of the land would cause limitations but over the past 3-4 months they had sought to ensure the whole scheme was as low as it could be to minimise the visual intrusion, such as the A13 junction would be constructed beneath the existing A13.  There would be some sections however with engineering and economic constraints that meant it would not be possible for residents to influence.


The resident representative expressed her horror.  One of the key issues was the visual impact upon residents and wildlife and it appeared there would be no choice in the matter, which was not what the Task Force had been led to believe.  Highways England advised that, in broad principle, much had been done to mitigate the effects of visual intrusion and moving forward, while the actual alignment of the road might not change, the surrounding area could provide further disguise.  The use of tunnels and cuts however were project led decisions and had already been made, such as the viaduct across the Mardyke.


Councillor Jones thanked the representatives from Highways England for being frank and questioned what could be influenced.  He was concerned that Members were wasting their time in discussions, such as around near residential areas, if the decisions had already been made.  This should be made more clearly at the next meeting.  Councillor Jones requested that full details of which sections were still possible for influence and which were not be brought to the next meeting.  The Chair highlighted that the purpose of tonight’s meeting was to draw out such information and reiterated that the Council was opposed to any further crossings in Thurrock.


Councillor Little urged Highways England  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 41 KB


It was agreed that the Task Force Priorities would be added to the agenda for the next meeting, as previously suggested by the Chair.


The Task Force discussed the April meeting, which fell into the pre-election period of heightened political sensitivity, however it was agreed that the meeting could go ahead provided sufficient guidance was given.


It was proposed that the Task Force seek to amend its Terms of Reference, via General Services Committee, to create a second business representative position to be filled by a representative appointed by Thurrock Business Board.  Whilst the Port of Tilbury would have key interests in the Lower Thames Crossing scheme this additional post sought to balance the representation in line with the two independent resident representatives, and provide a voice to the wider business population within Thurrock.  The current business representative assured the Committee that he had relayed concerns from a number of businesses up to this point.  The Committee agreed to make the request of General Services Committee.