Having previously been in support of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing it seems that after some recent events Havering Council’s concerns over LTC are growing.
Evidently Havering Council Leader Cllr Damian White has been questioning why Highways England have now gone back on their promise of Havering residents benefiting from a local residents discount scheme for the proposed Lower Thames Crossing.
He is on record saying that the crossing would have a significant impact on Havering’s local roads, and that it is important that residents can benefit from some form of concessionary charging rate, in a similar way to other local authorities residents.
There is also mention that the council have concerns over the adequacy of consultation, voicing concerns over the short consulation process and how holding the current consultation now during the COVID crisis is leaving many residents without a voice. In addition stating that it is the council’s view that HE have been more concerned about pushing through the consultations rather than listening to what people have to say. Also the way in which HE have carried out recent consultations is well short of the council’s expectations considering how important the project is.
Cllr White has sent an open letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP, calling for the local Havering discount to be reinstated and for Highways England to re-open the consultation (beyond the design refinement consultation Highways England are currently consulting on) to give local residents a proper chance to have their say on the plans. He states that failure to do this will result in the Council pulling its support for the project.
Havering Council have launched a petition, and are urging everyone across Havering and the South East to sign the petition.
Whilst we support this change in opinion from Havering Council, we have also brought to their attention the fact that the proposed LTC will have far more of an impact on the borough than purely whether they get local residents discount, and the inadequacies of the consultations
We have emailed Havering Council Leader, Cllr Damian White along with the council’s Transport Planner to discuss the matter further.
Read some of the points we raised in our email to them:
- You reference concerns about the impact LTC would have on air quality. We are also aware that the Mayor of London has committed London to be complaint with WHO standards on PM2.5 by 2030. With Havering obviously being a London Borough we would ask if you are aware that the whole LTC route would fail against WHO standards on PM2.5? https://www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/ltc-toxic-triangle/
- We have also recently highlighted the fact that Cranham Solar Farm will be demolished if the LTC goes ahead. Incidentally a fact that Highways England seem to have tried to keep on the down low, since the only mention of its demolition we can find is hidden well away within Map Book 2, rather than being explained in the main consultation guide that most people would refer to. https://www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/ltc-impacts-to-solar-farms/
- We have also recently discovered that the LTC development boundary now includes the M25 all the way up to J28, another fact that has been hidden away by HE with no explanation so far provided – https://www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/ltc-development-boundary-stretches-to-j28-on-the-m25/
- Are you aware that from an agricultural point of view, not only would it greatly impact Havering farmers, but it would also destroy some of the highest quality Grade 1 agricultural land? https://www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/ltc-impacts-on-farming/
- There are a number of Havering residents whose homes would be CPOd if LTC goes ahead, some of these residents have been messed about considerably by HE over the years. You may have been aware of the Havering residents who for some time were going to be trapped between the M25 and LTC – https://www.itv.com/news/london/2018-10-22/family-could-end-up-living-feet-from-major-new-thames-crossing. We have recently heard that some Havering residents whose properties would be impacted by LTC have not actually had letters from HE/LTC Land & Property team about the current consultation, which we are looking into further and trying to assist.
- During construction the works in Ockendon road would impact the Corbett’s Tey Crematorium, and the main bus route. Along with the impacts that the utility works would have to the Cranham area also.
- There are the obvious impacts to Thames Chase, which considering it is a community forest and to assist with mitigating the M25 impacts to the area is quite ironic that it is now at risk from yet another major road.
- There are concerns from Havering residents about the impact to walking and cycling (NMU), we have had particular comments of concern in that regard in relation to the A127/M25 roundabout where the expansion of slip roads/filter lanes would stop people being able to cross to the south side of the roundabout.
- There are the obvious impacts of the new parallel road from the LTC/M25 junction all the way up to J29. This is a very confusing split/stretched junction that we do not feel enough people, especially those in Havering, are properly aware of. The loss of the current J29 slip road on the northbound M25 carriageway, as it is merged into the new LTC/M25 junction.
- As well as the fact that the LTC southbound between the M25 and A13 is now down to 2 lanes, would create a bottleneck. What would be 5 lanes of M25 traffic onto just 2 lanes of LTC, especially at times when there is an incident at the Dartford Crossing and traffic needs to migrate to the LTC. I am hoping you are aware of the lack of adequate connections, and the fact that HE/LTC are not factoring in how traffic will migrate between the two crossings when there is an incident, which will result in congestion and pollution chaos? https://www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/ltc-m25-a127-j29-junction/
- Not forgetting of course that the Dartford Crossing will still remain over capacity even if LTC goes ahead, so the issues that we all suffer with due to the Dartford Crossing will remain, but we will also have the fallout from the LTC too if it goes ahead, all of which creates a nasty toxic triangle that is not fit for purpose. Fact proven using HE’s own data – https://www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/lower-thames-crossing-is-not-fit-for-purpose/
- Going back to your own comments regarding user charges and inadequacies of consultation, we have also written updates on both these matters. https://www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/ltc-user-charges/ covers some of our observations on user charges. I am curious as to why you are purely guiding residents to sign your petition, and not to also take part in the current consultation? We know from experience that response like this will be considered as an organised response by HE, and be counted as 1 objection rather than having the impact of however many people could respond in their own individual right to the consultation. I notice the petition date ends on 31st August, may I ask exactly what the theory is behind running a petition that ends after the LTC consultation finishes, what are your intentions for the signatures collected please?
- We are very much aware of way too many inadequacies of LTC consultation, both during COVID-19 and prior to the pandemic. We have been logging our concerns and evidence of inadequacies of consultation thought the process so far. We have detailed them in our official consultation responses, and have and will be submitting them to local authorities as best we can, since it will be your position to bring these inadequacies to the attention of the Planning Inspectorate during DCO stage. The inadequacies so far have ranged from the way consultation has been run and presented, to blatant errors in the consultation materials. We thoroughly agree that people are not being consulted adequately during the COVID crisis, both in this consultation and the last. We would also question why this consultation was announced whilst the previous consultation was still running. We feel this happened because HE are trying to rush through the process as quickly as possible rather than doing an efficient job of consultation. If they knew during the last consultation that another would definitely be needed, why did they push ahead with the first one and not wait until they had all the info and hold one larger consultation instead of two which just creates more consultation fatigue? The first consultation of this year was also rushed to fit it in between Government reforming after the general election and before purdah for local elections to try and avoid delaying their plans. HE’s general behaviour leaves a lot to be questioned on so many levels.
- In light of all of the above we would also been curious to hear what you feel the benefits of LTC are, especially for the people in Havering, and why you have previously supported it.
We will of course do our best to share details of any response as soon we hear anything back from them.
Update – 5th October 2020
We have received an email from Leader of Havering Council, Councillor Damian White. Here is what he had to say to us:
Thank you for your email and please accept my apologies for the delay in replying to you.
The Council is engaging with Highways England on various aspects of the Lower Thames Crossing project as it goes through the Development Consent Order process, and will continue to do so over the coming months, particularly as the scheme enters the pre-examination stage. The Council remains concerned on a number of aspects of the scheme both during the construction period and operation.
I note your comments concerning the way Highways England have carried out consultations, I share these views and as you may be aware, which I have made clear in a letter to the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. The Council will be reiterating these concerns when invited to make a written representation on the Adequacy of Consultation which we will be invited to make, once a Planning Application has been submitted.
In case you are not aware, Highways England have indicated that they are looking to submit their Planning Application to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) on or around 23rd October. PINS will then have 28 days in which to decide whether or not to accept the application for examination. During this time, host and neighbouring authorities will have the opportunity to submit a representation on the Adequacy of Consultation. If the Planning Inspectorate decides to accept the application, members of the public, groups, and other organisations – such as local authorities – will have the opportunity to register as an Interested Party. Matters that remain unresolved with Highways England will be raised by the Council at this stage.
Havering’s response to the Design Refinement Consultation has not been published on the Havering website, however I understand that it, along with all stakeholder consultation responses, will be part of a consultation report that will form part of the Planning Application that Highways England are scheduled to submit to PINS later this month. Since this documentation will be available on the PINS website, there will be an opportunity to review it at this point.
I am aware of concerns around construction vehicles that have been using Church Lane to access a field for ground investigation works. Officers recently met with Highways England and a 5 mph speed limit is to be put in place for vehicles using the road. Signage will also be erected making this speed limit clear. Officers have also requested Highways England to review their traffic management procedures in Ockendon Road as the stop & go signage that has been used by the contractor is not acceptable.
A dedicated email address that members of the public can write to on Lower Thames Crossing matters is being created, and once this has been set up I will send you the details.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.
What you can do
If you are a resident of Havering please do contact your local councillors, and your MP too if you wish, share you opinions and concerns about LTC. Whilst we appreciate Havering Council’s points on user charges and inadequacies of consultation, which have resulted in the petition, and this potential change of their support of LTC, we would also ask that you please do have your say in the official LTC consultation before it ends at 23:59 on 12th August 2020.
We would of course also suggest that anyone else reading this who is not a resident of Havering to consider contacting their own councilors and MPs about LTC too!
Time 107.5fm article – www.time1075.net/161302-2-havering-thames-crossing-petition/
Havering Council’s LTC petition – https://consultation.havering.gov.uk/communications/lowerthamescrossing/