The Senior Consultant stated that there was no
update regarding the Health Impact Assessment (HIA), but the team
were continuing to push and ask for updates. He stated that the
team were still waiting on technical reports to be submitted by NH,
and they were currently chasing these. He added that he was unsure
of the dates for the next consultation, as these had not yet been
agreed by NH, but the closing date for comments from affected local
authorities was Monday 14 February. He explained that NH were still
planning on submitting their DCO later this year, but a firm date
had not yet been confirmed. The Senior Consultant commented that
the team were also waiting on the updated operational cordon
traffic model, which they were hoping to receive by the end of the
month, and would then receive the updated air quality and noise
assessments from NH approximately 6-8 weeks after that.
The Chair asked if any progress on the HIA had been made since the last Task Force meeting in January. The Senior Consultant Stantec replied that there had been little progress since January, but regular CIPHAG meetings were being held every six weeks, which had provided additional information on how NH carried out their assessments. Councillor Muldowney thanked the Senior Democratic Services Officer for circulating version 1 of the HEqIA, and queried how NH had determined that the scheme would have a neutral impact on health due to climate change. The Senior Consultant replied that the DCO v1 had been submitted in October 2021 and had probably been finalised in mid-2021, which was before the governments drive to decarbonise and climate change had formed part of the government’s core policy. He stated that the HEqIA had been based on policy at the time, and the team hoped the document would change in line with the updated climate policies. He explained that the bar for regulation impacts requiring mitigation was high, and therefore a scheme had to have a large impact on the local area and local pollution levels before it required mitigation. Councillor Muldowney stated that Thurrock’s public health team had analysed the standards that NH used and had found them to be lacking. The Senior Consultant added that an independent audit into the methodology used for the HEqIA had been undertaken and paid for by NH, and scrutinised by the public health teams for nine impacted local authorities, who had lots of methodological criticisms. He stated that NH had committed to adopting approximately 80-90% of the criticisms recommended through the audit.
Councillor Muldowney asked if any progress had been made regarding NH commitment to local work and training for the scheme. The Senior Consultant replied that the team had asked NH for apprentice targets, local labour targets and worklessness targets, and he felt that NH were slowly beginning to agree with Thurrock on the need and benefits of these targets. Councillor Chukwu questioned the overall cost of the scheme, particularly considering the rising cost of living and climate change costs. The Senior Consultant Stantec replied that at statutory consultation in 2018 the scheme had been predicted to cost between £5 and 6 billion. He stated that the current cost had now been predicted at between £6 and 8.4 billion, which had therefore increased the cost by approximately 30%, not including the climate change costs. He stated that various measures could be undertaken during construction to mitigate the climate costs, for example using zero emission HGVS or using more environmentally friendly road surfacing techniques. He explained that NH were relying on the increased use of zero emissions vehicles during route operation as NH were predicting increased traffic to pre-pandemic levels.