Agenda and draft minutes

Lower Thames Crossing Task Force
Monday, 14th January, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Lucy Tricker, Democratic Services Officer  Email: direct.democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

42.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Councillors Tom Kelly, Andrew Jefferies, Terry Piccolo, and Gerard Rice (Vice-Chair) sent their apologies, as well as Linda Mulley, Resident Representative.

43.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 10 December 2018.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 10 December 2018 were approved as a correct record.

44.

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.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

45.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

There were no interests declared.

46.

Traffic Modelling Assessment pdf icon PDF 4 MB

Minutes:

The representative from Peter Brett Associates began by briefly explaining the report and explaining that there had been a number of documents relating to traffic modelling available on Highways England’s (HE) website as part of the statutory consultation, but these had been of limited detail and did not include options testing on how the scheme had been configured. She continued by stating that meetings had been held between Thurrock Council and HE in November and December 2018, as well as on 11 January 2019 on how the scheme had been selected and how the Council could work on the modelling with HE. She added that at the 11 January meeting, the Council and Peter Brett Associates (PBA) had been hoping to analyse traffic data, but this had not occurred. She described how instead HE had offered the Council future access to the cordoned model, which would allow Thurrock to run traffic modelling, but would not provide detailed modelling results. She stated that it would give the Council increased freedom to run their own traffic models.

The representative from PBA then gave a brief background on traffic modelling and explained that HE used a variable demand model which forecast how users might change their driving behaviour in the future, such as problems with congestion, cost of fuel, and fuel efficiency. She elaborated that the model used the average weekday in 2016, including peak morning hours of 7am-8am, inter-peak hours of 9am-3pm, and evening peak hours of 5pm-6pm. She went on to state that the model began in 2026, as this was the first year HE were hoping to have the LTC open, and also forecasted traffic in 2031, 2041 and 2051. She also described how traffic growth was estimated in two different ways, these being by using ‘committed development data’, which used available data at the time, and ‘non-committed development data’, which included future developments in the borough, such as the local plan. She explained that to model future developments in the borough, HE used global factors, such as using Department for Transport HGV data, which was not accurate.

The PBA representative discussed the outputs from HE current traffic modelling, including if the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) was built as is currently planned. She commented that HE believed the LTC would provide relief to the A13, M25, and Dartford Crossing through journey time improvements. She quoted HE and gave the example that at the Dartford Crossing currently 11,500-14,000 passenger car units (PCU, with one PCU equating to one car, and two PCUs equating to one HGV) were crossing per hour, and this would only increase to 14,000-16,000 PCUs per hour by 2041 if the LTC was built. She again quoted HE and stated that with their testing they believed that with the LTC, traffic would be reduced by 15% on the Dartford Crossing in 2041, and by 10% on the A13 in 2041. She emphasised the point that detail was not currently available to compare traffic in 2041 with and without  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.

47.

Development Consent Order Process: Next Steps (Verbal Update)

Minutes:

The Assistant Director LTC began by stating that the statutory consultation had closed on 20 December 2018, and HE had received over 20,000 responses which they were currently analysing. She commented that they were analysing for potential changes they might have to make, and if changes were identified, if any additional consultation would be needed. She added that consultation responses would not be made public until submitted as part of the DCO, but only main statutory consultation responses would be published in full, with individual responses being summarised and grouped. She stated that a number of technical meetings had been set-up between HE and the Council up until April, and although other local authorities met monthly, Thurrock Council were meeting on a weekly basis. She stated that Thurrock would be called upon by the Planning Inspectorate a month before DCO submission to consult on the Adequacy of Response, and the Council were currently also working on a Local Impact Report. She added that a skeleton version of the Local Impact Report would be brought before the Task Force before it was submitted. She explained that the Council were also producing a Statement of Common Ground which highlighted areas of agreement and dis-agreement between HE and the Council, and explained that although this was not a statutory document, it would help to shape the examination phase and which topic-specific hearings would take place.

She then moved on to answer Councillor Allen’s question regarding how Thurrock Council could influence HE and listed the following points:

1. Through technical meetings by shaping HE’s approach to the scheme, although this was proving to be a struggle at the moment;

2. Through the local plan consultation, as if this is progressed then later technical meetings could consider this as committed development;

3. Through partnerships with other local authorities, as there are many areas of commonality, and many other local authorities also feel HE are providing inadequate data

4. Through higher level meetings, such as with MP’s, Ministers and the Department for Transport.

Councillor Spillman then asked which legal avenues were open to the Council, and if there were legal methods
to either stop the LTC being built; change the route; or force HE to cut and cover the whole route. The Assistant Director LTC replied that the route cannot change, although during the examination phase inspectors test all routes, and can find evidence to be flawed and the scheme to be wrong. She felt that Thurrock could help to prove this and ensure the right decisions are made. She stated that regarding cut and cover, Thurrock Council can try and force HE in particular areas. She also added that in legal terms there is a presumption in favour of development and the scheme will get consent, unless it is not policy compliant. She explained that any legal challenge only delays the process and does not stop it completely. She described how the process first goes to judicial review and if this is proven then goes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

Summary of Consultation Responses (Verbal Update)

Minutes:

The Thurrock Business Representative began by stating the Port of Tilbury had submitted their formal consultation response, which was 52 pages long and was a comprehensive report including factors such as ecology, traffic and comments from consultants. He stated that the Port of Tilbury did not support the scheme without the Tilbury Link Road and also had concerns about traffic at the Manorway junction. He added that they had received no feedback from HE yet. The TCAG Representative explained that the Action Group had submitted their response, as well as individual responses, and the general consensus was negative. She added that even people who supported the crossing, had objections on some level. Councillor Spillman added that he felt the accessibility to the consultation online had been acceptable, and questions had been very thorough although leading in places.

49.

Task Force Priorities List pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Minutes:

The Chair stated that as HE had been on Christmas break until this week, no response had been received, so no changes could be made to the Priorities List.

50.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Spillman asked if a report on potential funding for the action groups could be added to the Work Programme, and the Assistant Director LTC responded that it would be added.