Highways England presented their Health Impacts presentation to Members of the Task Force.
The Chair thanked Highways England for the presentation.
Councillor Rice stated that the presentation was very comprehensive but had not addressed why a Health Impact Assessment would not be carried out. Highways England stated that a Social Impact Assessment would be undertaken in a broader sense.
Councillor Rice stated that Highways England must pay attention to the four Public Health Directors and professionals and proceed with the Health Impact Assessment.
The Chair stated that a letter had recently been sent to Highways England and would give them the opportunity to respond. Tim Jones reported that he had not received that letter.
The Thames Crossing Action Group Representative stated that pollution would affect all residents especially with the forecast of an extra 250,000 vehicles travelling through the borough. Highways England stated that an air quality assessment had been undertaken that had explored the wider factors and impacts on the health of residents.
The Resident Representative stated that the Social Impact Assessment had no relevance and that the key factors raised by Thurrock Council and residents appeared to have been watered down by Highways England and had not offered a true impact.
The Director of Public Health reiterated that a Health Impact Assessment was vital and should be undertaken without fail.
The Chair stated that all Members agreed.
Councillor Jones questioned how air quality, pollution and noise could be alleviated when there would be substantial elevated sections in the scheme.
Councillor Okunade questioned how confident Highways England was where air quality mitigation proposals would reduce the risk to life.
Councillor Allen stated that Highways England should listen to the professional’s judgement and undertake a Health Impact Assessment.
Tim Jones stated that in his view his team needed to be congratulated on the hard work involved on their presentations which were of such complex technical nature. He felt the scope of the project was very comprehensive and once the letter had been received by Highways England it would be analysed and would take the Director of Public Health’s point and the test the Health and Social Impacts so that no confusion could be made between the two. Tim Jones would report back and clarify to Task Force Members.
The Chair questioned whether both a Social Impact Assessment and a Health Impact Assessment could be undertaken. Tim Jones stated that once Highways England had the opportunity to analyse the letter they would come back and comment.
Councillor Kelly questioned whether the equality report on deprived areas had identified a bigger risk to the population of those areas. Highways England stated that studies would be undertaken on vulnerable groups and baseline where and how these groups may be affected but he saw no reasons that a full Health Impact Assessment would provide any greater understanding than currently proposed. The Director of Public Health stated that he could not disagree more that it was evident that deprived areas would be affected more. Highways England stated that links with air quality schemes would also be undertaken.