Agenda item

HEQIA QA Review: Update Paper

Minutes:

The Senior Consultant introduced the report and stated that officers had been reviewing the DCOv1 (version one) submission, and had been discussing this with the HE team for some time, including the impact of the proposed route and potential mitigation measures. He explained that the paper presented to the Task Force considered the methodology of the Health and Equalities Impact Assessment (HEqIA)v1. He added that the paper had been developed by Stantec, but all nine local authorities impacted by the scheme, either directly or indirectly, had been involved in agreeing the independent review. He stated that the paper sought to decide if the methodology of the HEqIA was adequate compared to best practice standards, which in this case was the Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (WHIASU) guidance. The Senior Consultant then mentioned that this paper provided a short summary of the findings of this exercise and had been paid for via the Planning Performance Agreement. He highlighted section 4 of the report and stated that Stantec had developed a number of recommendations for HE to consider and respond too, but these recommendations centred around the methodology of the HEqIA, rather than impacts or direct mitigation measures. He stated that the team had summarised their findings and had outlined in the report that they did not have much confidence in the adequacy of the methodology used by HE. He described how the team hoped HE would use officer’s findings to improve version two of the HEqIA. He summarised and stated that HE were still developing the second version of the HEqIA and this would not be ready for some months yet, and would be completed in stages after discussion with the CIPHAG group (with Public Health England in attendance).

The Strategic Lead for Public Health added that the review covered different aspects of the HEqIA, and used a variety of methods to decide if the document methodology was adequate. She explained that these sources ranged from a review against the WHIASU guidance; a review against the Equalities Act; and a review of the HEqIA against Authorities’ Health and Wellbeing Strategies and Equality Objectives where they have them. She stated that these reviews had been conducted on version one of the HEqIA, and helped officers to form an opinion of the HEqIA and made recommendations on how it could be improved for version two. She stated that when these recommendations are addressed this should assist in giving a  clearer idea of the health and equalities impacts, and therefore what mitigation and legacy benefits need to be in place. The Strategic Lead for Public Health added that the report presented 19 high level recommendations to HE, and there are many more recommendations were included in the full 100 page report. She stated that HE had currently agreed to 11 of those 19 recommendations; partially agreed to 2 recommendations; and had noted and were involved in further discussion for 6 of the remaining recommendations. She summarised and stated that the next step would be to discuss the recommendations with HE and at future CIPHAG meetings.

Councillor Muldowney thanked officers for their work on the report and for ensuring that HE were complying with methodological standards. She stated that the document was highly technical, and asked if the Task Force could see the actual HEqIA document, and the baseline data for health impacts. She commented that many Thurrock residents suffered from underlying conditions such as COPD, and residents wanted to understand the impact that the route would have on them personally. She explained that the route would affect numerous people such as the elderly, young people, and people with a variety of underlying conditions. She stated that in the full Hatch report some impacts had been quantified, such as severance and how this could affect A&E facilities and social isolation in East Tilbury, and wanted to see the same impacts discussed for health inequalities. She questioned if the new consultation would have any more information regarding health impacts, and queried how residents could meaningfully respond to the consultation if they did not know how the route could affect their health. The HE Population and Human Health Lead responded that the report presented to the Task Force was a highly technical and methodological document, and had been conducted independently by Stantec. She stated that the HE team were working with Stantec and Thurrock Council to analyse the document on a line-by-line basis, and HE would consider lots of methodological guidance, including the WHIASU standard. She explained that HE mainly used the Design of Roads and Bridges Manuals for methodological guidance, but would consider other aspects such as mental health wellbeing as part of the HEQIA version two. She added that HE would share as much as information with Thurrock Council on the health perspective as they could, and the team were still currently receiving feedback from CIPHAG.

Councillor Sammons left the meeting at 7.58pm.

The HE Population and Human Health Lead added that HE were currently working to build a picture of health and wellbeing along the route, and had drilled down to ward level data to fully understand the impact the route would have on health. She mentioned that the HE team were looking at instances of COPD along the route, and how populations were clustered, for example where the majority of elderly people lived in the borough. She stated that the team could currently only generalise the health response, but would work through the recommendations made in the report by Thurrock Council and would work alongside officers and CIPHAG on the six outstanding recommendation. She summarised and stated that the consultation would provide the team with granular detail and feedback, and would flag areas of concern, such as severance and noise issues. She explained that based on this feedback, the team would update the necessary assessments before DCO submission. She stated that the HE team were also currently working on a new Community Impact Report, which would look at detail on a ward level and would consider the wider impacts of traffic, including in areas such as Stanford-le-Hope and Corringham.

The Senior Consultant added that Thurrock Council had communicated their methodological criticisms over version one of the HEqIA, and had shared these with HE. He stated that a full response to these criticisms would be received in the next two to three weeks. He explained that Thurrock Council had felt the methodology behind the HEqIA had not been adequate, and hoped version two of the HEqIA would meet the necessary standards and could then be shared with the Task Force.

Councillor Muldowney expressed her concern that the Task Force had not yet seen the health impact data, including data provided by CIPHAG, and felt that residents would not be able to engage with the consultation without this data. The Senior Consultant replied that officers hoped the ward impact summaries would include health data and would have some measure of consumable detail for residents. He clarified that HE would not make the final Health Impact Assessment available for some months yet, although it would be available before DCO submission. The Strategic Lead for Public Health added that it is important for the HEqIA to be participatory and that residents are able to understand the impacts on them and respond to this. She explained that public health will be looking in the next iteration of the Health and Equalities Impact Assessment that it is participatory, and that the current consultation could help provide HE with necessary feedback.

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