InfoTask Force

August 2021 LTC Task Force Meeting

Whilst TCAG were not in attendance at the August 2021 LTC Task Force meeting (click here for the reason why), we most definitely tuned in to watch the live webcast of the meeting, all three and a half hours of it!

The meeting is available to watch again on the council’s YouTube channel (see below), and our update covers some of the highlights.

Questions to Highways England on the consultation

Following on from the July meeting where Highways England gave an insight into the new Community Impacts Consultation, just before the consultation began, HE were back for the August meeting to answer members questions about the latest info and consultation.

Committee members submitted questions in advance of the meeting, which allowed TCAG to submit some of our questions.  Members in attendance also asked spontaneous questions in the meeting.

Highways England said they would also send committee members written response to the questions, and we will also be submitting comments and follow up questions to those we submitted before the meeting.  Because guess what?  HE didn’t really give adequate response to most questions just for a change!

We will also cover many of the topics raised through the questions in other updates on the website, but here are some of the highlights of the August 2021 Task Force meeting.

Consultation Extension

Highways England confirmed they have no plans to extend the consultation, they feel it is adequate and that they have already allowed longer than they normally would have by giving us 8 weeks instead of 6.  Obviously HE are entitled to their opinion, but so are we, so please do keep sending emails to request an extension if you feel there is a need.  Also please do comment on this in your consultation responses.

We have no doubt that this will also be raised as an issue in the Adequacy of Consultation reports submitted to the Planning Inspectorate when HE attempt to resubmit their Development Consent Order.  We have heard that many of the local authorities have requested an extension to the consultation, and TCAG have also, so no doubt we will also be reporting on that as just one of the aspects of the Adequacy of Consultation reports.  You may remember that the Adequacy of Consultation reports were a part of the reason that the Planning Inspectorate were due to refuse the application last time, had HE not have withdrawn the application at the eleventh hour.

Responses so far

HE stated that they have so far received around 1900 responses to this consultation, with the majority of them being online and a few paper responses.


Economic benefits

HE are still refusing to provide an actual figure on what they estimate the economic benefit would be. We still say that if it is as good as they are trying to make out then surely they’d be shouting it from the rooftops?!


Tunnel Ventilation

We had previously asked HE for further details about the ventilation shaft/chimneys would be for the tunnels, how high they’d be, what they’d look like, that kind of thing.  HE had responded that there wouldn’t be any ventilation chimneys for LTC, so we followed up asking how the tunnels would be ventilated.  During the meeting HE stated that the tunnels would be fitted with fans that would push the air one way, but that they would only be operational at times when traffic was stationary. They said this would be because the tunnels would be built to modern standards, and when traffic is flowing the movement of the vehicles would push the air through the tunnel!

They said the pollution from the tunnels would disperse within about 200m of the tunnel portals.  Although we’re not sure where it is meant to go when it disperses, surely it’s got to go somewhere?  When questioned about the close proximity to the tunnel portals of the two newly proposed ‘parks’ (also read spoil dumping grounds) in relation to the pollution HE gave the reasoning that there are plenty of parks nearby to roads and that it is nothing to worry about, and not as bad as say living next to such pollution long term.  We don’t buy that.


The Wilderness, South Ockendon

We had previously asked HE why they never referred to The Wilderness as ancient woodland, as local knowledge suggests it is.  We had asked them to go away and look into it further and to come back to us.  This was followed up at the meeting.  HE said they had reviewed all woodlands as part of their planning back in 2018, and that the guidance states for a woodland to be considered ancient it has to have had continuous woodland coverage since 1600.  They went on to state their research could only find evidence dating back to 1840.

We don’t hold much trust or faith in their research since local residents have obtained evidence further back including a map that clearly shows The Wilderness dating back to 1767  which is held at Essex Record Office.  There is also evidence that the family who owned it at that time were direct descendants of Sir Richard Saltonstall who owned and lived in Groves Manor estate where The Wilderness is located when he was Lord Mayor of London in the late 1500s.  Considering that maps were not that common place back in those days, it is extremely rare to find mapped evidence of maps even as far back as the 1700s.  One of our contacts at The Woodland Trust were quite impressed when we told them we had located a map dating back to 1767 that showed The Wilderness as a woodland.

Just goes to show how poor HE’s research is, and also how little they truly care about things like woodlands.  Especially when you consider that the route was moved further towards and into The Wilderness in previous years so as to avoid the landfill due to the questionable content of the landfill, with local knowledge suggesting there is anthrax in the landfill site.


Air and noise pollution

HE explained that whilst they would be putting in monitors to monitor air and noise pollution levels before they start construction to get baseline levels, and also for the duration of construction, they would then remove them once construction was complete.  This means that they do not propose to monitor the air or noise levels once the LTC is open (if it goes ahead).  They were questioned how they would be able to monitor the impacts of the LTC in the impacted areas once operational, but didn’t really have an adequate answer to that.

We also learnt that the council have yet to be provided with the latest air and noise assessment data.  This kind of information will be quite technical and is something that would most likely need experts hired by the council to assess and explain.  It was made clear to HE that neither committee members nor the council thought it was satisfactory to be holding a Community Impacts Consultation when the information on things as important as air quality and noise assessments was not available to the council for their own response and to be able to share easy to understand info about the impacts to the community.


Road closures during construction

We asked for a list to clarify all road closures during consultation if the LTC goes ahead.  HE suggested that info was already available in the consultation, and various committee members pointed out lots of different areas where the info was not adequately clear as to the true extent of how long the closures would be.  Our own example to show that the info was in fact not clear and even contradicted itself was Baker Street in Orsett.

Page 321 in the Ward Impact Summary – North of the River Pt1 states the southern end of Baker Street being closed for 16 months, yet on page 354 in the same document it states the south end of Baker Street would be closed for 5 years.

HE stated that both are correct. They said that one refers to the southern end of the road which would be closed to vehicles and the footpaths closed to pedestrians etc for 16 months. And the other refers to just the footpath which would be closed for 5 years due to the safety risks for non vehicular users to be using whilst it would be a busy construction area.

Regardless of which road closure you’re talking about we and many others do not feel that the details in the consultation materials are clear or informative, and that is what HE are obliged to provide, clear and informative materials, something else to raise in the Adequacy of Consultation reports.

The council also voiced that they have concerns over HE’s proposed closures of various Public Rights of Way during construction, especially with some of them being proposed to be such long closures, some of which would include lengthy detours.  They are still discussing these concerns with HE to see what may be able to be done.

HE also explained that part of the Traffic Management Plan would include them having to consult impacted Local Authorities and Emergency Services on Emergency Vehicle access during any road closures to ensure that there were no issues.


Explanation of latest data for Dartford Crossing if LTC goes ahead

We also asked HE to provide further detail on what the traffic levels would be at the Dartford Crossing, if LTC goes ahead. Detail was given as to the current predictions and how the reduction in traffic is affected dependent of the estimated opening year, and drops as time goes on. ie they were now predicting a 21% reduction instead of 22%, and that would drop to 14% by 2044.


24/7 working hours

Questions where asked about the proposed 24/7 working hours, and concerns about the adverse impact this would have on residents/communities.


Proposed bridges

Questions were asked as to what we could expect in regard to proposed bridges, if the LTC goes ahead, with a focus on the North Road ‘green’ bridge.


Walking, cycling, horseriding

There was discussion about what is being proposed in regard to walking, cycling, horse riding, and the lack of provision for cross river active travel.



Concerns about the fact that the A13 would drop to 2 lanes in the vicinity of the Orsett Cock, despite the A13 widening project, if the proposed LTC goes ahead.  HE said they would need to come back to the council with answers for certain questions.


Employment and contractors

There was discussion about how many would be employed, if LTC goes ahead, and where they would be working.  There was a general lack of detail, and HE said they would see if they’d be able to come back with more detailed info.

It was stated that more info on the standards that would be put on contractors delivering the project (if it goes ahead) would be provided in the second attempt DCO application.

Concerns about construction traffic movements was also discussed, and included HGV movements and the possibility of the use of the river during construction, if LTC goes ahead.

Consultation accessibility

Questions were asked in regard to what was being done to reach hard to reach members of our community for consultation.  Also comment was made in regard to a consultation being held during harvest time when so many of our local farmers would be subject to losing land and having their land impacted if LTC goes ahead.

Cllr Piccolo thanked HE for adding the event at Homesteads, and asked for confirmation it would be a full event.  Whilst it is good that the event was added, we still question why HE think they can get away with not having events in some locations unless they are pushed to hold them.




TCAG Index of Community Impacts Consultation updates and info on our websiteclick here

Thurrock Nub News article on fact HE will not monitor noise and air pollution if LTC opens – click here

LTC Task Force meetingsclick here