There were a number of Examination Hearings in October, 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 6, also available alongside all our other submissions listed on our LTC DCO Updates Index.
Compulsory Acquisition Hearings 3 and 4 (CAH3 and CAH4) – 17th and 18th October 2023
These hearings were further opportunities 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 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 8 (ISH8) – 19th October 2023
Topic – Construction & Operational Effects (Non traffic)
This hearing covered the topic of potential to increase the use of the river during construction, to get more traffic associated with construction off the local roads. Despite this being a topic that has been discussed at Thurrock Council’s LTC Task Force meetings for years, NH still seem to be trying to avoid giving any real guarantees. Their reasoning appears to be that they cannot restrict the contractors to certain aspects, like enforcing the need to use the river. It seems to us that far too many aspects would be left to contractors to decide, if the LTC goes ahead, which is definitely a concern we have voiced.
Another area of focus in this hearing was accommodation for construction workers, again a topic that has been covered more than once at LTC Task Force meetings, and again an aspect we have voiced concerns over.
The hearing also covered how construction would impact places like Shorne Woods Country Park, and the Corbets Tey Crematorium, and what if anything could be done to reduce impacts and provide mitigation and compensation if needed.
Issue Specific Hearing 9 (ISH9) – 23rd October 2023
Topic – Environment & Biodiversity
A number of items on this agenda were ones that were pushed back from the September hearings, as time ran out in September. Because the Examining Authority have continually expressed how beneficial it is for them to receive information and evidence sooner rather than later, and because we presented new updates at the Accompanied Site Inspection on The Wilderness being added to the Long Established Woodland Inventory, we had already presented our evidence on these matters in writing prior to the hearing.
There was discussion on ancient woodland and the practice of translocating (moving) soil from ancient woodlands from the sites that would be destroyed by the LTC to new locations.
How places like Shorne Woods Country Park and other sites would be negatively impacted not only from the proposed LTC as a future road, but things like impacts to access during the construction phase, if it goes ahead.
Hole Farm Community Woodland was also again a topic of discussion, in particular the question of whether NH are attempting to double count the environmental mitigation and compensation, and whether something that is going ahead regardless of whether the LTC goes ahead, should be considered environmental mitigation for the LTC.
Issue Specific Hearing 10 (ISH10) – 24th October 2023
Topic – Traffic & Transportation
Much of this meeting was discussing concerns about potential future congestion as a direct result of the proposed LTC, if it goes ahead.
Many of the attendees are keen for some kind of agreement to be put in place to secure a provision for covering any future unknowns that would arise as a direct result of the LTC, if it goes ahead.
During the hearing and examination in general this is often referred to in connection to the Silvertown Tunnel agreement, this is because such an agreement was created and put in place for the Silvertown Tunnel project.
However, National Highways are trying to find every which way they can to wriggle out of getting into such an agreement, despite it appears the majority of other parties wanting such an agreement. Even the Examiners seem to be in support of such an agreement.
NH have tried to use policy to show that it would not be needed as the Road Investment Strategy would cover any such eventuality, but other parties KCs etc have been countering such claims by NH. Again even the Examiners have at times questioned NH interpretation of the National Policy Statement.
Discussion on this topic often gets into the detail and interpretation of the National Policy Statement, which for many of the public watching may feel a bit over our heads. The basic thing we feel to know is that the majority want such an agreement place, and we believe it is for all the right reasons, and to help safeguard future issues that occur as a direct result of the LTC, if it goes ahead, and NH are doing their damnedest to avoid such an agreement. For the avoidance of doubt we are completely on the side of the majority on this, and feel it is very important that such an agreement with provisions to hold NH accountable if and when needed is essential.
As it stands on this matter discussions are ongoing, but Examiners keep making it clear on this and other topics that time for discussions is running out, with the examination ending on 20th December.
For matters which cannot be resolved the Examiners will do their best to adjudicate, but will then pass to the Secretary of State for Transport, so only time would tell.
The remainder of the hearing covered Walking, Cycling, Horseriding (WCH) and Non-Motorised User (NMU) aspects of the proposed LTC. A reasonable chunk of this part of the agenda was covering landowners concerns that new WCH routes, particularly bridleways could open up their land to a greater risk of antisocial behaviour, which is something they already have problems with.
Whilst we understand their concerns, and of course no way condone antisocial behaviour, we do feel care is needed to ensure that the genuine need of WCH routes for those who lawfully wish to use them should not be put at risk due to an unfortunate minority that carry out the antisocial behaviour. Our stand on this was shared by others who spoke at the hearing. Again discussions are ongoing.
Future Issue Specific Hearings
The final Issue Specific Hearings will take place in November 2023 as part of the Examination. You can find out more about the dates, times, and what the hearings will cover via our LTC DCO Process Timeline Update, which will be updated with agendas as soon as possible after they are published.
Issue Specific Hearings – click here
Recordings and Transcripts – click here
LTC DCO Examination Updates – click here