Agenda item

Thames Freeport - Verbal Update


The Interim Assistant Director Regeneration and Place Delivery introduced the report and explained that it provided a brief update on the Thames Freeport and the effect this would have on the LTC. He stated that due to the size of the Freeport, Thurrock felt that LTC connectivity to the local road network should improve, and the Council had met with Thames Gateway, Port of Tilbury, and DP World to discuss the implications of the LTC and the Freeport, particularly the adequacy of the A13 Manorway junction. He explained that the amendments that National Highways (NH) were proposing to the Orsett Cock roundabout would have implications on the A13 Manorway junction, and would therefore impact port traffic. He added that Thurrock were currently waiting for detailed traffic modelling of the Orsett Cock roundabout and how this would affect the A13 Manorway and the A13/LTC junction. The Interim Assistant Director Regeneration and Place Delivery added that officers from Thurrock Council had met with the Port of Tilbury last week to understand the alignment of the potential Tilbury Link Road and how this might connect to Tilbury town. He felt that the view of the Port of Tilbury was aligned with the Council’s as both believed that the newly proposed junction would be a good step towards the development of the Tilbury Link Road, although the Council were still looking to understand how future connectivity would be delivered to the port. He explained that the new junction would be close to the port, but port traffic would still need to travel up the A1089 to the A13/LTC junction to then travel back down to the port. He stated that Thurrock Council would be pushing for the Tilbury Link Road at Development Consent Order (DCOv2) submission. He summarised and stated that NH were planning to start their next consultation on 24 March.

The Chair thanked the Interim Assistant Director for his report and stated that the red line boundary for the LTC and the Freeport would overlap. He queried whether traffic out of the Freeport would contribute towards LTC air quality statistics. The Senior Consultant replied that NH were currently updating their traffic model, and Thurrock had been informed that this should be ready by mid-March. He explained that at that point, NH would then begin to work on updating their noise and air quality modelling. He stated that as the consultation began on 24 March, this information would likely not be available pre-consultation. He added that the air quality threshold was also changing following the Environment Act, which would be implemented toward the end of October 2022. He commented that Thurrock had received no clarification from NH regarding how this change of threshold would affect the proposed scheme.

Councillor Muldowney questioned what was currently known about the proposed Tilbury Link Road. The Interim Assistant Director Regeneration and Place Delivery explained that the upcoming consultation would consult on modifications to the proposed junction. He explained that the proposed junction would only be for operational and emergency access, but could provide the basis for a future junction, although no current public access was proposed. He added that the proposed junction would be where the tunnel portal emerged on the north side of the river and would allow emergency vehicles faster access to the tunnel entrance in case of incidents. He stated that the new proposed junction could in future connect to Station Road, but it was not currently clear whether it would connect to the east or west of Station Road.

The Thames Crossing Action Group (TCAG) Representative asked how long the new consultation would run, and if this would fall during the purdah period. The Senior Consultant stated that the consultation would conclude on 22 April and would fall completely during purdah. He stated that therefore the Council would need to either submit a draft consultation response or wait to submit until after purdah had finished with Council endorsement. Councillor Muldowney queried when the Council would receive feedback from the last consultation. The Interim Assistant Director Regeneration and Place Delivery replied that a summary of changes following the consultation would be provided, but NH would not be able to reply to all consultation responses before the start of the next consultation in March. The Senior Consultant replied that there would be no technical documents for the next consultation and that all information would be contained within the consultation guide, plus the usual three map books.

The Resident Representative queried how the new Freeport would affect the proposed Tilbury Fields area. The Senior Consultant explained that the Freeport would receive priority over the Tilbury Fields area, and therefore the western half of Tilbury Fields had been given to the Freeport. He explained that the new plan increased the northern and eastern sections of Tilbury Fields, but this was still smaller in size than the original plan. He added that this could cause issues for NH, as NH originally planned for the spoil to be used in Tilbury Fields. He explained that as Tilbury Fields would now be much smaller, the level of the ground could be higher. He stated that part of the proposed consultation would be regarding the updated plans for Tilbury Fields.