Agenda and minutes

Lower Thames Crossing Task Force - Monday, 15th March, 2021 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


Apologies were received from Councillor Andrew Jefferies; Westley Mercer, the Thurrock Business Board Representative; and Anna Eastgate, Assistant Director LTC and Project Delivery.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 249 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 15 February 2021.


The minutes from the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) meeting held on 15 February 2021 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 urgent business.


Declaration of Interests


No interests were declared.


Environmental Impact Assessment Update pdf icon PDF 259 KB


The Senior Consultant introduced the report and stated that it was divided into four sections: stakeholder engagement; Thurrock’s past concerns; Thurrock’s current concerns; and next steps. He explained that Highways England (HE) were currently revising the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), but that the table on the front page of the report outlined the process so far. He stated that the eleven topic chapters of the EIA document had been received from HE in July 2020, and the other technical documents had been received in August 2020. He described how Thurrock had commented on all these documents in October 2020, and HE had responded to these comments in February 2021, which Thurrock’s LTC team were still digesting and comparing to the EIA, within the Development Consent Order (DCO) Version 1. The Senior Consultant explained that the second page of the report included a table, which outlined the 11 topics that formed the EIA on the left-axis, compared to the stages of reporting on the top-axis. He stated that the team could then use this table to understand the Council’s issues with the EIA at that time. He explained that the table used a RAG system of reporting, with green boxes indicating that this area was satisfactory with no action needed; amber indicating there further work to be undertaken; red indicating there were some matters that require amendment; and purple indicating there were some priority matters that require urgent attention. He stated that all red and purple areas had been summarised in section four of the report, but many of the issues were within the amber category. He stated that those areas graded red or purple had been graded based on the information received in October 2020, and some progress had been made on some of these areas since then.

The Senior Consultant then outlined the rest of the paper, which covered four key issues, including air quality. He outlined the major issues surrounding air quality which included: emissions not being included from barges or non-road mobile machinery (NRMM); and, levels of PM10 and PM2.5 not being included for assessment or monitoring. He described how the team had not yet considered HE’s response to these issues, so the team were not yet sure if potential mitigation would take place or the right assessment had been undertaken. The Senior Consultant moved onto discuss cultural heritage and explained that HE had undertaken a full heritage assessment across Thurrock, but that Thurrock had questioned its methodology, and so HE were now re-doing the desk-based assessment. He added that there had also been incomplete archaeological surveys undertaken near the portal entrance. The Senior Consultant then explained that the team were currently assessing HE proposed landscape and biodiversity mitigation, but the team were unsure that the proposed mitigation would be adequate. He stated that the team were looking at the strategic area between Tilbury, Coalhouse Fort and Stanford-le-Hope, as this had an increased level of cultural heritage, as well as being environmentally important. He stated that HE  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.


Health Impacts Update pdf icon PDF 150 KB


The Senior Consultant introduced the report and stated that it was formed of three parts: process; concerns; and next steps. He explained that the HEqIA draft had been received on 3 August 2020, and Thurrock had responded on 1 October 2020 with their comments. He explained that HE had responded to Thurrock’s comments in February 2021, and the team were currently looking at HE’s response and comparing these to the HEqIA submitted at the DCO Version 1. He stated that this should be completed in a few weeks, and the team would then meet with HE to discuss any concerns. He then described how CIPHAG had held nine meetings between November 2018 and July 2020, and this was now being re-started on a more transparent basis, and included all relevant local authorities and Public Health England. The Senior Consultant explained that the CIPHAG group were currently deciding on who would chair the meeting, but stated that HE senior management would be involved to ensure decisions could be made and move the meetings forward. He mentioned that there would be 4-5 more CIPHAG meetings, with the first one being at the end of March to examine outstanding issues. He also explained that the Public Health Strategic Lead was currently garnering support from other local authorities for a separate independent audit into the HEqIA from the DCO Version 1, and this would be an ongoing process over the next few months. The Senior Consultant explained that Thurrock currently had concerns regarding elements of the baseline data, methodology, results, and mitigation; for example air quality data, access to open spaces, and noise and vibration levels.

Councillor Muldowney questioned the response to the draft HEqIA, and queried whether HE had responded to Thurrock’s comments regarding the lack of baseline data. The Senior Consultant explained that Matt Palmer, the new HE Executive Director, had agreed that any decisions that required resolution could go through him directly, which was a step forward. Councillor Muldowney felt that although it was good to see increased transparency through CIPHAG, there was still a lack of data and monitoring information. She thanked the Public Health team for their hard work on this report, particularly during the pandemic, but questioned whether the HEqIA had moved on since it was last brought before the Task Force in October. She also queried whether air pollution could be mitigated, such as the effects of PM2.5, which the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had called the ‘biggest risk to health’. She stated that Thurrock already had increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases, COPD, and other underlying conditions that would be exacerbated during construction phase and reduce their quality of life and increase likelihood of premature death. Councillor Muldowney felt pleased to see that the team were pushing for HE to monitor PM2.5, and felt that HE should agree to this as part of the governments green agenda. The Senior Consultant stated that the air quality methodology was included as part of specific guidance within  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


CO2 Emissions pdf icon PDF 201 KB


The Senior Consultant introduced the report and stated that this had come from a request from Councillor Muldowney at December’s Task Force meeting, and set out the measures for CO2 emissions that had been included in the Hatch report, which had been published on the Council’s website at: Lower Thames Crossing proposals | Thames crossing | Thurrock Council. He stated that the Hatch report included 23 direct mitigation measures; 12 council-led support measures; and, 22 legacy measures; and, and 2 of these related particularly to CO2 emissions. He stated that these two mitigation measures included the establishment of ultra-low emissions vehicle (ULEV) targets on the LTC, and a carbon off-setting plan through the introduction of willow planting. He stated that the team were currently receiving HE’s response to these two mitigation requests. The Senior Consultant outlined page two of the report, which highlighted the cost of willow planting, and how it would partly address CO2 emissions along the route. He stated that the DCO Version 1 had included the Environmental Statement, as well as the Register of Environmental Actions and Commitments (REAC), and when revisions to these documents were included in DCO Version 2 submission they would be legally binding. He explained that the team were currently working to ensure that willow planting was included in the REAC and CoCP, and although HE had agreed to some measures in the REAC, these still needed to be developed further.

The Senior Consultant then moved on and described how the Department for Transport’s first draft of the Decarbonisation Plan had been published in March 2020, and had been through consultation so people could submit their ideas for decarbonisation. He stated that he understood that the Department for Transport planned to publish the final document in April 2021, which could contain measures that would affect the LTC, such as ULEV targets. The Senior Consultant briefly described the work that Transport Action Network (TAN) had been undertaking, and corrected the report by stating that TAN were only able to challenge the Road Investment Strategy (RIS) 2 on climate change, not air quality or SEA. He stated that currently HE did not have to comply with their current carbon and energy plan, but had to show that they had assessed carbon levels on the route. He added that HE also had to take into consideration the governments net zero goal, as approximately 5+ million tonnes of carbon would be created during construction and for the first sixty years of the route opening. He stated that HE had already agreed to reduce the size of assets along the route, many other measures including  changing the concrete mix to reduce emissions, but Thurrock would continue to push for further mitigation. 

Councillor Muldowney questioned L20 of the Hatch report, and asked if this would have an impact on CO2 emissions. She also questioned how much willow planting would offset carbon emissions by, as she had worked it out to only offset carbon output from the LTC by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.


Mitigation Update - verbal report


The Senior Consultant introduced the report and stated that the team had received written comments from HE on all 57 mitigation items, and these comments were currently being reviewed by officers and senior Members. He stated that once this had been reviewed, it would be reported back to the Task Force. He felt hopeful that the Council and HE would be in a reasonable position by May/June 2021.

The Chair thanked officers, particularly Anna Eastgate – the Assistant Director LTC, and Stantec, for all their hard work throughout the year. The TCAG Representative echoed these comments and thanked Anna for her hard work, both with the Task Force and with TCAG. Councillor Muldowney also echoed these comments and thanked Anna and the team, particularly the Senior Consultant, the Ecology and Biodiversity Officer and the Strategic Lead Public Health for their hard work in digesting and summarising all the information for the Task Force. Councillor Spillman added his thanked to Anna, as he felt she had been very knowledgeable and had a brilliant sense of humour. He wished her well in the next step in her career. The Senior Consultant added that Anna had been brilliant to work with, as she had always spotted problems before they had arisen, for example the mitigation list had begun to be developed two years ago, which required lots of forethought. He also thanked Anna for her hard work in getting HE to agree to the PPA, as Thurrock had been the first local authority to do this, and this had allowed resources be spent by HE that had benefitted Thurrock. Councillor Allen thanked all officers for their contribution, particularly Anna and the Senior Democratic Services Officer.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 130 KB


There were no items to add to the Work Programme.