Councillor Kent queried the purpose of the
report. The Chair stated that the issue of compensation had not
been discussed by the Task Force previously and gave the
opportunity for officers to answer questions and provide comment.
The Senior Consultant Stantec introduced the report and stated that
compensation given by National Highways (NH) was divided into two
parts: the first was statutory compensation that had been contained
within section three of the Council’s formal consultation
response; and non-statutory compensation.
The Senior Director CBRE stated that compensation could also be given in three instances where no land was taken from a resident:
a. Section 10 of the Land Compensation Act (commonly known as the McCarthy Rules) which were only applicable where a right benefitting retained land was impacted causing reduction in the value of retained assets. He gave an example of if a resident had their access rights impacted by the scheme, which subsequently reduced the value of their house, then they might be entitled to compensation for the reduction in value arising from the executive of the works. He explained that NH would often negate a claim by re-providing the right (in the example by providing an alternative access to the house).
b. Noise insulation regulations, which were only available to houses within 300m of the scheme and where:
i. The ‘Relevant Noise Level’ was at least 68 dB(A) L10(18 – hour).
ii. The ‘Relevant Noise Level’ was at least 1 dB(A) more than the ‘Prevailing Noise Level’.
iii. New roads would contribute at least 1 dB(A) to the ‘Relevant Noise Level’.
He stated that the compensation offered under these regulations would be to mitigate the impact of the noise, for example by offering to pay for double or triple glazing, or other noise reducing works. He added that the noise threshold of 70 decibels was extremely high, and therefore only limited residents were likely to qualify for compensation under these regulations.
c. Part 1 of the Land Compensation Act 1973, which compensated the owner of a house or interested land for the reduced value of their asset caused by physical factors arising from the use of the works. He stated that these physical factors included noise, smoke, dust, and fumes, but did not take into account loss of views. He stated that this compensation could only be accessed one year after LTC scheme opening, and residents either had to own the freehold to their property or have a long leasehold interest in rented property to apply. The Senior Director CBRE stated that it would be difficult for residents affected by the construction of the route to claim compensation, and non-compulsory purchases would not be regularly offered, even if residents were affected by noise, dust or traffic.
The Chair sought clarification that non-statutory compensation would not be widely available during the construction phase, and queried how many properties in Thurrock would be negatively affected by the construction. The Senior Consultant replied that NH had undertaken an exercise to identify all properties within 300m of the proposed route, and one of the Hatch measures had been to ensure that earthwork construction, where residents lived 300m or less from the route, would be limited to daytime hours, and the team would try to secure this in the Development Consent Order (DCO), agreed by NH. He added that NH had plans outlining all of the affected properties, but were currently updating their noise and air quality assessments before determining if mitigation to those residents would be required. The Senior Director CBRE added that it was difficult to assess some of the impacts, as the majority of the design had not yet been agreed, and much of the design work would be left to the contractors. He stated that the LTC team in Thurrock were working to foresee potential issues before they arose and ensure mitigation measures against these issues were included in the DCO.
Councillor Muldowney explained that she had had a discussion with the NH Executive Director for LTC and had requested a fund be set-up for those residents living close to the route who suffered from COPD or other illnesses that could be worsened by their proximity to the route. She mentioned that this fund could be used to relocate, either temporarily or permanently, these residents to ensure their health would not be impacted by the scheme. She queried if any progress had been made on developing this fund. The Senior Consultant replied that her suggestion of the fund had been included in the original comments submitted as part of the non-statutory Community Impacts Consultation, but the team had not yet received feedback on these comments. The Senior Director CBRE stated that he had previously worked on the HS2, Heathrow, and Thames Tideway schemes and these had been run by the private sector where enhanced compensation had been offered. He stated that as NH were a government organisation it tended to only offer the statutory minimum level of compensation required.
The Thames Crossing Action Group (TCAG) Representative asked if the compensation schemes could be accessed by the general public, as well as by the Council. The Senior Director CBRE replied that any property within 300m of the scheme would be eligible to apply for compensation. He stated that these compensation claims usually fell within part 1 of the Land Compensation Act, and there were companies that specialised in helping people affected by these schemes apply for that compensation. He stated that they often mail dropped a local area that would be impacted, and although they could offer their assistance, there was no guarantee that a compensation claim would be successful. The TCAG Representative asked if residents whose properties did not fall within the red line boundary could apply for compensation. The Senior Director CBRE replied that they could apply for compensation, for example if their access was affected by the construction works, but it was difficult to judge the value lost in these houses due to the scheme. He added that if residents who suffered from COPD and other long-term conditions were concerned about the impact of the scheme, they could apply for a discretionary purchase order under the Highways Act, but they had to have a compelling case that would explain their need to move due to the scheme, and the bar was set very high for this type of compensation. The Chair questioned if there was a time-limit to apply for a discretionary purchase order. The Senior Director CBRE replied that there was no time-limit, but it was prudent for residents to act quickly as soon as the circumstances arose, as it would take time for their application to be submitted, processed and a price agreed upon. The TCAG Representative stated that if residents were concerned, basic information could be found on the TCAG website.
The Senior Director CBRE left the meeting at 6.25pm.