Agenda item

CO2 Emissions

Minutes:

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 0.2%. She felt that although this was a good project, it would only be minimally effective. She felt that Thurrock and the UK needed to tackle climate change by reducing the number of large concrete projects, which produced a lot of pollution. She also questioned how the government could agree a decarbonisation plan as well as the LTC, which seemed to fundamentally have different goals. The Senior Consultant responded that HE had already committed to preparing an electric vehicle strategy, but it seemed to only include the transport of workers at present. He stated that the team were waiting to see what plant and construction equipment was proposed by HE, for example EU rules stated that class six HGVs were ‘clean’ vehicles, and HE could commit to using these, as well as electric plant equipment and willow planting. The Senior Consultant added that page seven of the draft Decarbonisation Plan emphasised six ways to reduce carbon, which included: an increased shift to public and active travel; decarbonising road emissions; decarbonising road vehicles and how we get our goods; place-based solutions; making the UK a hub for green transport technology and innovation; and reducing carbon emissions in a global economy. He stated that this did not include mention of reducing road building, but Stantec and Thurrock would continue to push for the LTC to include future travel patterns and technological changes. He stated that buses would be able to use the LTC but this needed to be promoted and made easier for people to access in their routes into and out of the tunnel.

The TCAG Representative highlighted the published Hatch report and asked if this could be reviewed, as some graphics overlapped text, which made it difficult to read. The Senior Consultant replied that he would liaise with the communications team to get this updated, as necessary. The TCAG Representative questioned where the willow planting would take place. She also queried how this would be useful for carbon offsetting as when the willows where chopped down and burned for biomass fuel, this would cause pollution. She also questioned point 1.3 of the report and asked how any spoil from the route could be used for planting, if planting was due to begin this year. The Senior Consultant replied that he would find the answers to these questions and reply in writing to the Task Force. The Ecology and Biodiversity Officer added that the willow planting would take place on Buckingham Hill, in the area behind the civic amenities site. He stated that this would be 26 hectares, which had previously been landfill and was a good site for restoration, as it had previously been poorly restored. The TCAG Representative asked if HE had to include non-motorised users in the LTC design, as if it was an A-road, it would be used by cyclists and walkers. The Senior Consultant replied that this would be likely to be set-out in the DMRB guidance, but there were still questions as to whether the route would be a motorway, expressway or a trunk road and what implications that had for its design detail. He stated that it would be called the A122, but the team still did not know what restrictions or classifications this would carry. He added that an LTC report had assessed all existing walking, cycling and horse-rider (WCH) routes in the area, as well as their condition, potential for upgrade, and missing WCH links, and those top priorities would be encouraged to be included in the LTC scheme. He stated that the team would review this assessment and make suggestions for added links or missing provision if necessary. He explained that Thurrock had lots of capability for using WCH routes, but there was not currently the provision to encourage this, and this needed more detailed work. The Senior Consultant added that he was also looking into the Northwood Project at Councillor Rice’s suggestion.

The Chair and Task Force agreed to extend standing orders.

Supporting documents: