Agenda and minutes

Lower Thames Crossing Task Force - Monday, 14th December, 2020 6.00 pm

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

Contact: Lucy Tricker, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 217 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 12 October 2020.


Councillor Muldowney requested that the minutes on page 5 be expanded to include all green areas which she had listed at the meeting. She commented that it had been agreed other green spaces should be on the list, specifically Orsett Heath and Wicken Fields. She also requested that the mitigation list be updated accordingly.

The Task Force agreed these amendments, and the minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) Task Force meeting held on 12 October 2020 were approved as a true and 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 the urgent business.


Declaration of Interests


There were no declarations of interest.


DCO Withdrawal & Next Steps - verbal report


The Chair thanked the Assistant Director LTC, as well as other officers, for their hard work on this item. He also thanked consultants Stantec, who were working hard to support the Council. He specifically thanked Dermot Scanlon, Claire Sawing, Emma-May Eshelby, and Chris Stratford of Stantec who had worked hard to bring together Thurrock, Havering and Gravesham. 

The Assistant Director LTC introduced the report and stated that Highways England (HE) had submitted their Development Consent Order (DCO) on 23 October 2020, and Thurrock had been given until 6 November 2020 to provide their adequacy of consultation response, which had been shared to Task Force Members via email. She added that the response would also be published on Thurrock Council’s website, and the LTC team were working with the Communications team to ensure the website was updated. She commented that Havering and Gravesham had already published their adequacy of consultation responses. The Assistant Director LTC added that the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) had written to HE before the deadline requesting more information, which HE had then provided. She outlined that PINS had then stated they were minded to refuse the DCO application, at which point HE withdrew. She stated that PINS had published a 49 page document which set out the issues and concerns they had with the application, but outlined that HE were still planning to re-submit next year. The Assistant Director LTC commented that Thurrock Council were planning to meet with HE to work with them, and updates on these meetings would be provided to the Task Force.

The Stantec Senior Consultant then summarised the 49 page PINS document, and stated that it was divided into two sections. He stated that the first section, which was 12 pages long, was essentially what would have been the PINS non-acceptance letter. He stated that the rest of the document was from BDB Pitmans, who represented HE and were working on their behalf, and was a signposting request, which answered the PINS non-acceptance letter. He stated that PINS had raised ten issues with the DCO submission, which were outlined in the letter.

The Stantec Senior Consultant outlined those ten issues and stated that the first issue had been with the Highways and Transport Assessment. He explained that this was divided into two aspects: the transport modelling, both during construction and operation, whose methodology and approach had been tried and tested during many projects; and the Transport Assessment which was supposed to look at impacts of the proposal and potential mitigation. He described that the Transport Assessment had not been published, as HE felt it did not need to be submitted until the DCO had been approved. He stated that PINS had disagreed with this approach and had requested a Transport Assessment be submitted. He added that PINS also felt the transport information submitted only focussed on larger roads, was too generic, did not contain enough detail, and did not outline any potential environmental impacts. He explained that Thurrock had repeatedly requested this information,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.


Economic Mitigation List pdf icon PDF 1 MB


The Assistant Director of LTC introduced the report and stated that the summary document was now in phase 2, and renewed discussions were now underway with HE, including Matt Palmer who was the new HE Executive Director. She stated that a full list of mitigation had now been shared confidentially with HE, but this would be published in January and would include the full technical document and non-technical summary. She stated that Thurrock were meeting with HE tomorrow, but that HE had verbally stated a significant proportion of mitigation would be included at DCO submission. The Assistant Director LTC added that any mitigation that was not agreed by HE would be reported back to the Task Force in the New Year. She commented that mitigation would be provided either through a s106 Agreement or through a grant agreement, which would need to be agreed by Thurrock’s Cabinet. She stated that the report had not been updated as hoped, but there had been lots of changes made recently, which would be presented to the Task Force in the New Year. 

Councillor Rice questioned if additional noise mitigation in Chadwell St Mary and Tilbury had been considered. The Stantec Senior Consultant responded that these locations had been highlighted as requiring additional mitigation due to construction noise and vulnerable communities living in these areas. He stated that these areas currently did not have enough mitigation or noise barriers, and would be looked at in detail, due to the proximity of population centres. Councillor Muldowney queried if the enhancement of green spaces included in the mitigation list had been updated. The Assistant Director LTC replied that there was no new additional detail included in the mitigation list, but more detail would be available after the meeting with HE tomorrow. She stated that the team had lots of work to do surrounding the mitigation list. She stated that they were currently identifying solutions, and proposed a tracker be included with the mitigation list, which would be updated monthly. The Stantec Senior Consultant added that since the previous Task Force meeting, the main report had been updated with the list of green spaces Councillor Muldowney had requested.

Councillor Allen stated that the proposed route would be a toll road, and asked if Thurrock Council could receive a percentage of money from the collection of tolls. He stated that this could mitigate the impact of the route, and help to sustain Thurrock over many years. The Assistant Director LTC responded that the Council were currently trying to secure a percentage of the tolls, which they hoped could be added to an environmental sinking fund. She added that the Council were also trying to ensure that if HE breached environmental regulations, Thurrock would also receive money. She stated that this fell under the remit of the Department for Transport, rather than HE. The Stantec Senior Consultant stated that this fell under M18 toll hypothefication, which would source money for Thurrock to deal with support projects. He added that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.


A303: Questions and Comments - verbal report


The Assistant Director of LTC introduced the report and gave some context to the A303 Stonehenge project, including the successful challenge to the additional runway at Heathrow, the Paris Agreement, and the 2014 National Infrastructure Policy Statement. She stated that the A303 Stonehenge project was the first project since the successful Heathrow challenge, and DCO had been granted on 12 November, although this had originally been due in early 2020. She stated that the project would see a dual carriageway being put in a tunnel underneath the Stonehenge site, and although the PINS panel had recommended to refuse the DCO application, this had been overturned by the Secretary of State and DCO had been granted. She commented that the panel had decided to refuse the application due to the potential harm it could have caused the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but a challenge to the decision to grant had already been sought by the Stonehenge Alliance. She mentioned that any updates on the A303 scheme would be added to the Work Programme, and brought before the Committee for discussion.

The Chair thanked officers for bringing forward the update as he felt it was good to see other DCO applications and issues around the country. Councillor Muldowney questioned the relevance the A303 project had on the LTC proposal. The Assistant Director LTC replied that it was the only scheme which had been recommended for refusal and then overturned. She stated that the Halite gas storage facility had had the opposite issue from the A303, and had been recommended for approval and then overturned by the Secretary of State and sent back to PINS for a new decision. She stated that if the Stonehenge Alliance challenge was successful, the scheme would go back to the PINS panel for them to look at their decision again. She added that the Stonehenge Alliance would have to have a successful application of judicial review, then a successful judicial review, before it would be sent back to PINS. She added that it would be interesting for Thurrock to see what the Stonehenge Alliance’s grounds for challenge would be. She stated that any learning from the A303 Stonehenge project would be applied to the LTC and any updates brought before the Task Force.

Councillor Muldowney asked if the Assistant Director had been surprised that the Secretary of State had overturned the PINS decision. The Assistant Director LTC stated that she had been surprised by the PINS panel refusal, as the scheme would actually reduce noise in the area; improve the Stonehenge experience; increase access on historic roads; and improve the tranquillity of the area, as well as the visitor experience. She understood why the panel had refused, due to factors such as buried historic artefacts, which would potentially be disturbed by the tunnel, particularly near the junctions where the tunnel rose to surface level. She added that English Heritage, who owned and managed the site, had also been supportive of the scheme.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 25 KB


The Assistant Director LTC stated that officers and the Chair would review the Work Programme offline, but would include items on: CO2 emissions; the Energy White Paper; DCO review and summary; update to the Transport Action Network challenge; A303 Stonehenge updates; prioritisation of the mitigation list. She added that HE had been invited to the January Task Force meeting, where the new HE Executive Director would present on the scheme’s design, including the viaduct.