The Thames Crossing Action Group (TCAG)
Representative introduced her presentation which can be found at
the following weblink:
The TCAG Representative explained that the group had been founded by residents to represent those opposed to the scheme, including residents in Kent and across the country. She explained that in 2017 TCAG had been refused a question at Full Council, and there had been much media and press attention surrounding this. She stated that the LTC Task Force had then been set up to improve communications between officers, Members, and residents. She explained why TCAG were fighting the scheme, such as problems on the Dartford Crossing that would not be improved by a new crossing, problems during construction phase, and increased pollution. She explained that issues with the design of the LTC, such as a single lane on the A2 slip road and the ‘Stanford detour’, as well as a lack of traffic migration data during design phase, could also increase problems for users of the road and residents. She added that a new crossing could also increase cross-river traffic by 50%, and would have a negative impact on nearby homes, farms, greenbelt land and the solar farm.
The TCAG Representative moved on and stated that in 2016 the cost of the scheme had been approximately £4bn, but this is now officially estimated to be up to £9bn+ (with many believing it would end up being £10bn+++) and meant that the Benefit Cost Ratio had fallen from 3.1 to 1.22. She explained that the recently announced two-year delay would continue to increase costs and therefore reduce the Benefit Cost Ratio. She added that additional works that would be needed as a direct result of the LTC (if it goes ahead) and/or projects originally proposed by National Highways to be included in the project, such as the Tilbury Link Road, Blue Bell Hill, and A2 dualling were no longer being considered as part of the project, but instead progressed as stand-alone projects, which many consider to be a false economy. The TCAG Representative explained that the Accounting Officer Assessment had been published in January 2023, but this document was using cost data from August 2020, which was now outdated. She added that this document contained references to an independent assessment review which had been carried out, and TCAG had entered a Freedom of Information Request to see this document. She stated that the request had been refused by Cabinet. She stated that TCAG had therefore instructed solicitors and were currently waiting on a response.
The TCAG Representative moved on to share evidence that if the LTC did go ahead, carbon output would increase both during the construction and operation phase. She explained that a legal challenge had recently been put to the government’s Net Zero policy, and the government had a deadline of 31 March 2023 to respond to this challenge. She added that other legal challenges were also ongoing. She then commented on aspects considered greenwashing and propaganda. The TCAG Representative explained that the World Health Organisation had recently set guideline limits on the levels of PM2.5 that could be released, but these had not been accepted by the government. She added that electric vehicles could still emit PM2.5 through brake dust, tyre wear and road wear, but that National Highways were still in the process of assessing the impact of PM2.5. She commented that the government were also in the second hearing phase of Ella’s Law which discussed people’s right to clean air. She added that the proposed expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) could also affect the LTC, as the northern part of the proposed route entered the London Borough of Havering by the M25 junction. She commented that she had spoken with Transport for London who had confirmed they would be attending and making representations during the LTC examination phase.
The TCAG Representative explained that
although the proposed scheme was being referred to as an
all-purpose trunk road, evidence shows it would have no hard
shoulder, was being designed as a 3 lane motorway (with the
exception of the southbound section from the M25 to just past the
A13), and would use stopped vehicle detection technology, lane
control, and variable speed limits, so should be considered a
‘smart’ motorway by stealth. She commented that the
government had recently paused the smart motorway scheme, and felt
that the LTC should also be paused for this reason. She commented
that the scheme could also affect local wildlife habitats and
populations, such as water voles in the Mardyke Valley, bats, and
the recently re-discovered ruby-tailed wasp. She added that the LTC
would also have a negative impact on The Wilderness, and the TCAG
team were working on having this area designated as a
Long-Established Woodland by Natural England. She stated that the
LTC would also reduce the number of farmland acres, which could
reduce food security and increase pollution further through
increased air miles for food imports. The TCAG Representative
explained that the proposed scheme did not encourage public
transport use or active travel, as there would be no increased rail
links or cross-river trams, which could reduce the amount of cars
and freight on the road. She summarised and explained the process
now the DCO had been submitted, and the current pre-examination
phase, but highlighted that even if the DCO was accepted, the
scheme would be subject to a two-year delay.
Councillor Ononaji joined the meeting at 6.36pm.
The Chair thanked the TCAG Representative for her presentation and her continued work with the Task Force. He questioned if any work had been undertaken on fire safety within the LTC tunnel, particularly fires in electric vehicles. The TCAG Representative explained that electric vehicles could have issues as fires were more difficult to put out and could reignite, but the fire service were aware of this. Councillor Muldowney echoed the Chair’s thanks and felt that the recent legal challenges were good news. She felt that the government needed to work on a coherent Transport Policy to address climate change, bring about a modal shift regarding public transport, and active travel. The Resident Representative questioned where the examination phase would be taking place and how individuals could impact on this process. The TCAG Representative explained that anyone could register as an interested party and could attend the examination phase, either virtually, in-person or by making a written submission. Councillor Kent thanked TCAG for their hard work and good presentation. He felt that the proposed scheme would not stop congestion at the Dartford Crossing, or congestion on the local or regional road networks; and would not meet the required Benefit Cost Ratio level.