There were a number of Examination Hearings in November, here we give you a quick rundown of some of the key points we picked up on! Links to the recordings and transcripts of the hearings can be found on our website as well as the official PINS LTC webpage. We have submitted and published our Written Submission for Deadline 7, also available alongside all our other submissions listed on our LTC DCO Updates Index.
Compulsory Acquisition Hearing 5 (CAH5) – 21st November 2023
This hearing was a further opportunity for Affected Persons (those whose land and/or property would be directly impacted by the LTC, if it goes ahead) to speak in front of the Examiners, and discuss their concerns and issues. These hearings are very much more focused on individuals, businesses, and authorities and the personal direct impacts to them, so we have chosen not to go into a level of detail on our update.
Issue Specific Hearing 11 (ISH11) – 22nd November 2023
Topic – Environmental Matters
Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit began by detailing new legislation that comes in on 26th December 2023, which stipulates that rather than saying ‘a relevant authority shall have regard to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, it now states that ‘a relevant authority must seek to further to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.
NH generally seemed to be attempting to play down the impacts to the AONB by saying the LTC impact would be limited to a very small part of the AONB. However, the AONB unit and others referenced that this was not the case and that precedent had already been set that the size and geography of the impact within the AONB is not relevant, and that a significant adverse impact is still just that.
There was then discussion on the creation of wetland near Coalhouse Fort area. As well as more discussion on nitrogen deposition and other woodland mitigation and compensation. The hearing topics finished up with a brief discussion on Southern Valley Golf Course area to hear Gravesham’s comments on historic contamination to the area.
Issue Specific Hearing 12 (ISH12) – 23rd November 2023
Topic – Social, Economic and/or Project Delivery Matters (including Control Documents and Agreements)
Discussions began talking about the loss of Southern Valley Golf Club, with NH attempting to suggest that it was a private members club that was closed before they bought the club, as if it would have closed regardless. The reality of course is that anyone could pay to play at the club, and that the Directors of the club announced that it was due to the uncertainty of the LTC that they had closed, and the only reason it closed before NH bought it was because the deal took longer to finalise.
The topic then moved onto financial agreements between Local Authorities and NH, where it was clear that NH had been refusing to share info request by authorities, and that there is still a level of disagreement between parties. These matters are very important as it covers how authorities would cover the additional costs associated with the LTC, if it goes ahead.
This was then followed by discussion about Community Funding. This is supposed to benefit communities impacted by the proposed LTC during construction, for impacts that are not covered within the DCO (which is the legal document that covers responsibilities and such like). We agree with those saying that they feel the amount being allocated for Community Funds should be more than is being proposed. Also that it should be set up in a way to reflect the rising cost of things over the years, as cost will only go up over the construction period, if LTC goes ahead. Additionally, that the funding is only in place for 7 years, and we like many others have concerns that huge projects often run over on time.
The topic of discussion then moved on to a much more technical level in regard to control documents, which is how things would be legally secured, if the LTC goes ahead.
Open Floor Hearing 5 (OFH5) – 23rd November
This was a final opportunity for Interested Parties to speak in front of the Examining Authority about their concerns abut the proposed LTC.
Issue Specific Hearing 13 (ISH13) – 27th November 2023
This hearing largely focused on the topic of increase in traffic at the Orsett Cock, and also through the village of Orsett, should the LTC go ahead. There appears to be a great level of disagreement between Thurrock and NH, as well as concerns being raised by the ports. There was also a short section at the end of the hearing to cover Blue Bell Hill, whereby it was discussed as to what would happen at Blue Bell Hill, if Kent County Council are unable to go ahead with the proposed improvements.
Issue Specific Hearing 14 (ISH14) – 28th November 2023
This hearing was a more technical hearing about the draft DCO. For the benefit of those who may not be familiar, if the DCO is granted it covers the legalities of how everything happens, so ensuring the draft version is as adequate as possible is essential, as whatever is presented to the Secretary of State will ultimately become the legal document, if permission is granted.
Issue Specific Hearings – click here
Recordings and Transcripts – click here
LTC DCO Examination Updates – click here