The Assistant Director LTC
stated this was a standing item which had been requested by
Councillor Tom Kelly to keep sight of the Task Force priorities.
She stated this document was a pre-cursor to the Mitigation
Schedule. She then drew the Task Force’s attention to areas
of the Priorities List which had been populated by HE in sections
1a (ii), 1a (iv), 1d, 2b (ii) and 7e.
She ran through the changes which included:
1a (ii): HE had clarified that during the construction phase 900 construction workers would be needed at peak construction times in Thurrock. HE had stated jobs would grow as journey times would decrease, which would increase labour markets and help businesses.
1a (iv): HE had stated that a crossing at Canvey Island had been discounted in 2009 as it did not meet scheme objectives and HE could not justify it.
1d: HE had clarified they would be using local contractors as the PIN notice had been published last week, which could be shared with the Task Force and Thurrock Business Board.
2b (ii): Thurrock Council had now agreed a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) with HE that could recover costs in terms of officer resources, and this had been backdated to September 2018.
7e: A group had been set-up regarding the HIA which had met in November 2018 and January 2019, and would continue to meet quarterly to discuss the Health Impact Assessment, as the Assistant Director LTC believed that work was not progressing quickly enough.
Councillor Allen asked for clarification regarding 1a (ii) as although 900 workers were needed for the construction phase, HE had put out to EU tender, and asked if local construction workers could receive these jobs. The Assistant Director LTC clarified that due to the scale of the project, and procurement rules, it had to go to EU tender. She stated that the tenders would be tiered, so both larger and smaller contractors could receive business. She added that through the DCO process, Thurrock Council wanted to ensure a certain amount of local goods and contractors were used on the project.
The Chair stated that at 1a (ii) part of the initial scheme had included a Tilbury Link Road to connect the docks. He stated that he remained opposed to the LTC, but had felt the Tilbury Link Road may have bought benefit. The HE Development Director replied that when HE had spoken to Thurrock businesses, the majority of feedback contained frustration at the Dartford Crossing. He stated that there was not the infrastructure to cope with a Tilbury Link Road, and if it was included in the scheme it could impact upon local roads. He added that HE were working with the Department for Transport and other partners to work on a different concept to connect the Port of Tilbury, either during or after the LTC had been built. The Assistant Director LTC replied that Thurrock needed access to the cordoned model to be able to analyse whether the Tilbury Link Road would affect the local road network. The Vice-Chair asked if the Tilbury Link Road had been removed due to cost, as it had been too expensive. The HE Development Director replied that if the LTC was connected to the local road network and the dock area, it would cause an increase in traffic. He added that HE wanted to collaborate with Thurrock and the Port of Tilbury to work with the port’s expansion and the Local Plan. He added that they were looking at a variety of options, but in its current guise, the Tilbury Link Road would not fit in with the scheme. The Business Representative stated that he felt the Tilbury Link Road should be included in the scheme, and had been removed due to cost. He added that he felt it would only cost 1-2% of the £6billion total to add the Tilbury Link Road, which seemed insignificant. He also stated that the Port was currently submitting a DCO to expand by 152 acres. Councillor Allen reaffirmed his opposition to the scheme, but felt if it went ahead then HE should get it right by design. He felt is should be ‘value for health’ rather than value for money. The HE Development Director replied that they were not choosing the cheapest option, as the cheapest option would be a bridge, but HE were mitigating the scheme and would ensure there was adequate consultation.
The Chair stated that he had met with the Transportation Development Manager during the Congestion Task Force to discuss design elements and the use of a bridge. The Transportation Development Manager stated they had discussed the HE scheme to place a wind buffer system along the Dartford Crossing, as there was a trigger point when it became too windy and the bridge had to close. He stated that HE had done the academic work regarding the proposed wind buffer system to reduce closures, but Thurrock had not received much update from this and did not currently know the timescales. The Resident Representative commented that HE had not improved the Dartford Crossing for some time, and there had been no discussion on ways to improve the existing tunnel, such as removing the need to shut down when tankers passed through. She felt it was disappointing as a resident that HE had not shown more of an effort to work on problems at Dartford. She asked if HE could make major improvements at Dartford, rather than building a new crossing. The HE Development Director replied that the Dartford Crossing did not meet the right safety specifications to allow tankers to pass through unescorted, and it would never meet those specifications. He added that they had done lots of work regarding this, but HE were working to improve Dartford, such as updating the traffic management systems; reducing recovery times; and installing the new Dart Charge system. He commented that Option A of the LTC had been to improve the Dartford Crossing, but this had been ruled out in favour of Option C, as Option C had increased the return on value for traffic times.
The Chair reiterated the point that the new crossing would be a toll road, so all monies spent would be returned to HE. Councillor Allen again commented that he felt HE were too focussed on money, and had not considered the impact of the road on resident’s health, the environment and ecology. The TCAG Representative stated that HE had saved £15million at Dartford by not installing a wind buffer, and did not want the same problems to occur at the LTC.