Agenda item

Lower Thames Crossing Task Force Update Report (Decision: 110588)


Councillor Massey, as Chair of the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) Task Force introduced the report and stated that it was a brief summary of the Task Force meetings between June and September, during which time the Community Impacts Consultation took place, and Highways England rebranded to become known as National Highways. He explained that in June the Task Force had considered the 57 mitigation items, as outlined in the Hatch report, and heard which items could be secured, and which could not be taken forward, for example LTC hypothecation and legacy housing. He stated that concern was raised by Task Force Members in relation to these points, particularly surrounding legacy housing as Thurrock would need to shoulder the burden of the increased need for properties in the area to house the LTC workforce. He explained that the Task Force, and Council, would continue to engage with National Highways to see if progress on this mitigation item could be made.

Councillor Massey moved on and commented that in July, National Highways had virtually attended the Task Force meeting and had given a presentation on the Community Impacts Consultation, during which they had stated that they would be aiming to submit their Development Consent Order (DCO) in winter 2021. Councillor Massey highlighted that the Community Impacts Consultation had included Ward Impact Summaries, which included detailed information about how the scheme could affect each ward in the borough. He stated that Members had raised concern that areas such as Stanford-le-Hope and Chadwell St Mary had not been included as areas for consultation events, but after the meeting National Highways had agreed to add these as locations for events. He described how the consultation took place as the country unlocked from the pandemic, and Members would have liked to have seen more in-person events, with material available for those without internet access. He added that during the meeting in July, the Task Force had also discussed the Health and Equalities Impact Assessment (HEqIA), and the consultant had explained that Thurrock were putting forward changes to the methodology of the HEqIA, and hoped that National Highways would consider these. He stated that they had also discussed the issue of COPD along the route, and how populations clustered around the proposed route would be affected.

Councillor Massey continued and stated that National Highways had also attended the August meeting of the LTC Task Force, during which Members shared their concerns that the consultation was being held during the summer holidays. He stated that National Highways had been satisfied with the consultation as it was running for 8 weeks rather than the statutory 28 days. He stated that 1900 responses had been received up until the date of the meeting, which was higher than both previous consultations when looking at the same timeframe. Councillor Massey explained that the Task Force had submitted 25 questions to National Highways on varied topics such as housing, employment, tunnel safety, historic landfill, watercourses and site working hours. He explained that National Highways responded to all of these questions, and the minutes of this meeting could be found online.

Councillor Massey explained that the September meeting of the LTC Task Force was held in the Beehive, with the only substantive item being the Thurrock Council Consultation response, which included a 17 page short summary, a 100 page overall summary, and approximately 500 pages of technical appendices. The Task Force had listened to the senior consultant who had explained that Thurrock Council had determined the route would negatively impact local connectivity, reduce the ability for housing development in the area, and would have a large impact on the local road network. He added that not enough detailed mitigation had been included in the consultation in relation to the increase in traffic, both during the construction phase and route opening. Councillor Massey added that Thurrock Council were still waiting on data from the traffic models, and a discussion was also taking place in relation to the peak travel hours used for this data. He highlighted that 2,700 people had completed the consultation, and thanked residents for taking part. Councillor Massey summarised and stated that October’s meeting was postponed as a mark of respect to the late Sir David Amess MP, and the next meeting would be held on 15 November 2021.

Councillor Coxshall echoed Councillor Massey’s comments regarding legacy housing and felt disappointed that National Highways had not agreed the mitigation measure regarding this issue. He stated that the LTC workforce would need homes, and wanted to see proper homes built, rather than containers or caravans on site. He stated that National Highways should look to the London Olympics as a model to build sustainable homes that could be used for the community once the workforce had left, and would not be as unsightly as temporary container accommodation. The Leader thanked residents for their consultation responses and hoped that National Highways would take these responses on board.

Councillor Coxshall asked if the Task Force could look into the connectivity of the scheme with the local road network, particularly the junction with the A13. He stated that as there would currently only be a westbound junction this could cause delays at Stanford-le-Hope, particularly with the development of the Freeport. The Leader added that the Council did not want a repeat of the East facing slip road with the A13 at Lakeside. Councillor Massey replied that he would go back to the Task Force and discuss the A13 junction with the LTC.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Noted the work of the Task Force.

Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in

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