Agenda and minutes

Lower Thames Crossing Task Force - Monday, 20th November, 2017 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Rooms 2 & 3, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Lottie Raper, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 16 October 2017.


The minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 16 October 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 outlined that all Members of the Task Force had an interest of some kind.


Actions from Previous Meetings pdf icon PDF 37 KB


Councillor Little had previously requested that Highways England include a form with their letters to residents which would allow them to indicate that they were happy for their Ward Councillors to be told they had been contacted.  This would allow Ward Councillors to be more informed about the needs of specific residents within their Wards, regarding the proposed Lower Thames Crossing.  He asked whether this had been done. Highways England stated that this would have to be subject to legal review within the organisation.  Councillor Little emphasised that a simple ‘opt in’ arrangement would satisfy all Data Protection requirements such that Thurrock might readily understand comments being received and support the process of inclusive consultation that Highways England had claimed.


The Chair noted that the Lower Thames Crossing Action Group Representative had requested data around the difference in Air Quality impact between the proposed route 3 and the A14 option.  It was confirmed that, to date, this information had not been received from Highways England.


Councillor Jones highlighted that Highways England were not engaging regarding information and the general feeling within Thurrock was that the scheme would go ahead without engagement with local communities.


The Vice-Chair referred to previous enquiries regarding the elevated sections of the proposed design, and he hoped that this would be touched upon in the update from Highways England later in the meeting, as it was of great importance for local residents.  The Highways England Representative expressed that he would be happy to touch on the issue but a higher level of detail would require more time than their allotted time for the presentation.  He indicated that it would be beneficial to hold a longer meeting in future to allow for greater depth.  Councillor Jones interjected that there had been no response regarding the elevated sections within Thurrock, yet the report showed there would be more scenic options such as cut-ins in Kent.  He felt Thurrock was already being neglected and would be happy for the meeting to run longer if it meant that concerns and queries could be answered.


The Chair echoed that there was an overall feeling of frustration amongst Councillors, officers, the Thames Crossing Action Group and residents as it appeared that Highways England were failing in terms of communication.  He hoped there would be improved responses moving forward, and proposed that Actions 1-10 be covered at the current meeting. 


The Highways England Representative asked if there were any specific responses which required further expansion.


Councillor Little echoed his earlier comments around contact with residents.  It was confirmed that Highways England held a database of everyone who contacted them regarding the scheme though it was not certain that this could be sifted.  With regards to sharing details of land owners and residents whom Highways England had contacted it was a matter of data protection laws.  The professional opinion of a legal expert would be sought and a response brought back to the Task Force.  The suggestion of residents allowing their details to be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


Highways England Update: Scheme update and engagement & consultation


The representatives from Highways England presented their plans for consultation and engagement as the scheme progressed.


The Chair stressed that information should not only be shared digitally, elderly residents and others without access to the internet must receive information at the same time as others.  Highways England stated they were keen to represent everyone and would do their best to ensure information would be sent in the best way, taking guidance from Thurrock Council, as information should be open for access to all.  There were currently 250-300 interest groups, stakeholders and businesses to be contacted and 47,000 responses had been received at the options phase.  The Chair requested the data from the 47,000 responses and noted that Thurrock Council had not received a copy of the consultation report.  These responses covered all stakeholders for the scheme but, following discussions around legal issues, a response would come to the Task Force.  As for the consultation report, it had been published on the Lower Thames Crossing website as part of the preferred route announcement.


Regarding interest groups, the Director of Public Health noted that there was no mention of health agencies.  Public Health England were mentioned however it was expected that Local Authorities would engage with more localised health authorities.  The Director of Public Health reiterated that Highways England should be engaging with local hospitals, the Clinical Commissioning Group and GP surgeries. 


Councillor Okunade questioned whether landowners and property owners that were stakeholders had been identified.  The Highways England Representative hoped that this had been fully completed, though there may be some whose property or land lay just outside the redline boundary that had not yet been contacted. 


Highways England also held a profile sheet on Thurrock Council, as with all the major Local Authorities affected by the proposal, which was important for strong and direct engagement.  Highways England had recently appointed a sole representative responsible for the interests of Thurrock Council, Ian Kennard, who would attend meetings of the Task Force moving forward. 


Councillor Jones asked if the aim was to deliver objectives to the Council and local residents.  Adjustments could be made taking on board issues concerning the local area.


The Thames Crossing Action Group Representative questioned how there could be a positive outcome with a route through Thurrock, given it was already one of the worst polluted areas with high levels of cardiovascular disease and cancer.  The Highways England Representative advised that stationary traffic led to poor air quality therefore air quality should improve. Air Quality was a national issue and motorists needed to be smarter in their movements.  A more detailed answer required the baseline to be completed and measured against the correct data but Highways England had already agreed to work with Thurrock giving joint instructions to consultants.


The Thames Crossing Action Group Representative highlighted that £10m had been spent on the current crossing.  86% of traffic was expected to remain and 14% would not reduce the traffic sufficiently to ‘get Thurrock moving’.  The proposed Lower Thames  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Council's Proposed Response to Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Additional documents:


The Corporate Director of Place introduced the report.  At the previous meeting of the Task Force Members had covered the areas that mattered most to Thurrock.  The Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report had been received by the Council on 2 November 2017 and a response from Thurrock Council was to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate within 28 days.


The Independent Technical Advisor on Environmental Issues gave a brief presentation which outlined the purpose of the scoping report, how it had been reviewed and key areas of note.


The Thames Crossing Action Group Representative noted there were three Grade 2 listed buildings by the proposed Orsett junction and asked what protections were afforded to them.  The EIA Scoping Report had shown that these were being assessed correctly but full details would not be known until the full Environmental Impact Assessment was completed.  The Independent Technical Advisor on Environmental Issues expressed that it was more worrying that a scheduled monument would be dug up at Orsett, yet no reference was made to this within the scoping report.


The Thames Crossing Action Group Representative queried whether the 2km assessment for visual impact would be 1km from the centreline in either direction, or whether the 2km would be in both directions from the centreline.  It was confirmed that the assessment area would cover 2km in either direction from the centreline of the proposed carriageway.


The Vice-Chair queried whether Highways England would be advised of the number of populous in areas of high population.  This would be taken into account as part of the air quality assessment and significant weighting would be applied accordingly.


Councillor Little stated that he was impressed by the number of evidence-based objections that had been put forward.  Section 3.61 of the report advised that Tilbury Energy Centre should be included within the assessment of cumulative effects and suggested that the response also note that DP World was not currently working at full capacity and therefore its traffic figures were still due to increase.


Councillor Allen questioned whether there was a clear trend within the air quality data within Thurrock over the past 20 years.  The Task Force was advised that levels decreased quite quickly in the early years and then plateaued somewhat.  The Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) still needed to be in place but levels were coming down overall.  Councillor Little added that there were 17 AQMAs in Thurrock and it had been proposed to remove 7, however they would remain in place given the potential crossing.


The Chair noted that section 3.14 of the report advised that the DEFRA’s Emission Factor Toolkit was likely to underestimate emissions and sought further explanation.  The Task Force was advised that it was widely known that the toolkit underestimated PM2.5 and PM10, however methods were available to uplift figures to worse-case scenarios and this had been requested.  The issue was beyond the realms of the software in use.


Councillor Okunade queried who would be the judge of whether mitigation was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 66 KB


The Democratic Services Officer advised that the update listed for December would go to Cabinet rather than General Services Committee.


Councillor Little declared that he, and the other Members of the Task Force had received a letter from Stephen Metcalfe MP offering his assistance if required.


Councillor Rice requested that Officers liaise with Highways England to ensure Members received copies of the large-scale maps as agreed earlier in the meeting.


The Thames Crossing Action Group invited Members to their meeting to be held on Sunday, to reinforce the strength and show of united support within Thurrock for their cause.