Issue Specific Hearings 3,4,5,6, and 7 took place between 5th and 11th of September 2023. This updates gives you a quick insight into some of the highlights of the hearings, and links to the recordings and transcripts of the hearings can be found on our website as well as the official PINS LTC webpage. TCAG made oral representations at the hearings and have also submitted a post events written submission for Deadline 4.
Issue Specific Hearing 3 (ISH3) – Tues 5th Sept
Topic – Project Design
There were concerns from pretty much everyone but NH in regard to the 3 main intersections, the A2/M2/LTC, the A13/A1089/LTC, and the M25/A127/LTC intersections, and also the connectivity between the intersections. Concerns were voiced over the complexity of the intersections, what options for users there would be, how confusing they would be, what routes and costs might be incurred if you took a wrong turn, environmental impacts, traffic flow, impacts to port traffic and local communities, how traffic would migrate between the two crossings when there are incidents, lack of adequate provision for public transport and active travel.
One bit of information to come to light, that people have been asking NH for for sometime now, was they finally confirmed that active travel would be in accordance with LTN1/20.
Item 7 on the agenda was held over to the reserved dates in Oct/Nov, details of which will be published in due course.
Issue Specific Hearing 4 (ISH4) – Weds 6th Sept
Topic – Traffic and Transportation
The theme of serious concerns about traffic flows and design of the LTC continued into ISH4. There were concerns voiced about induced demand and the fact that induced demand predictions does not include HGVs and LGVs, which is crazy for a road project that is predominantly about providing a route for port traffic in the South East through to the Midlands and beyond, which would of course be HGVs and LGVs.
The ports, emergency services, and local authorities voiced concerns about adverse impacts to traffic and accessibility etc. Professor Phil Goodwin spoke as a member of Thurrock Council’s LTC team, and what a speech it was. TCAG are proud to say that we actually did some work with Professor Goodwin in preparation of his speech, and it was great to hear him deliver his oral evidence on behalf of the council. It made an impression as the Examiners requested that NH must respond in detail to Professor Goodwin’s comments by Deadline 4. We certainly look forward to reading their response!
Issue Specific Hearing 5 (ISH5) – Thurs 7th Sept
Topic – Tunneling
There was discussion surrounding concerns from the Port of London Authority in regard to proposed tunnelling depths, if LTC goes ahead, and future proofing the river for ports usage. Also on what type of Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) might be used, and whether one or two TBMs would be used. How much water the TBMs would need, how water would be sourced, supplied, discharged. Associated vehicle movements and noise and vibration. Plus the risks of sink holes etc, in a similar vein to as we have previously voiced concerns along the lines of what happened with HS2 tunnelling, since both go through similar chalk grounds. Risks of disturbance of historic landfill sites, unexploded ordnance, and vehicle fires during construction specifically in the tunnels.
Issue Specific Hearing 6 (ISH6) – Fri 8th Sept
Topic – Mitigation, Compensation & Land Requirements
This was a very full agenda, which meant that some items have been postponed to a future Issue Specific Hearing.
During the hearing NH were asked about concerns about double counting when it comes to mitigation and compensation, something we have been voicing concerns about for a long while now.
Of course NH said that there was no double counting, but when TCAGs turn came to speak we referred to the recent planning application for Hole Farm Community Woodland, that NH have submitted to Brentwood Borough Council. Whilst you don’t need planning permission to plant the trees for a woodland, the are proposing a visitor centre etc which does need planning permission.
You may remember that when NH first announced Hole Farm Community Woodland they stated it was to improve biodiversity near their major routes, in this instance the M25, and that it would be progressed regardless of whether LTC was granted permission. It didn’t take long for them to start associating this proposal to the LTC project, and that then resulted in Hole Farm being included in the LTC project as environmental mitigation and compensation. We have previously called them out on this and believe it to be double counting and an attempt to greenwash the hugely destructive and harmful LTC.
Anyway back to the hearing! When it came our time to present our evidence we referenced the planning statement that has been submitted by NH to Brentwood Borough Council, which we believe shows that they are indeed double counting. The Examiners were most interested and asked for the Hole Farm planning application to be submitted as additional evidence in the LTC DCO Examination.
We are interested to see how NH respond to this in their Deadline 4 post-event submission, as they didn’t look too pleased when we bought it up at the hearing.
Issue Specific Hearing 7 (ISH&) – Mon 11th Sept
Topic – draft DCO
This one was at times more technical as this is to do with the legalities of what permission would be granted, if permission is granted. What happens, who is responsible for what, and how things would have to happen, that kind of thing.
One particular point of major concern which seemed to be a considerable issue was the use of the terminology of start v commence, and exactly what should officially be considered the ‘start/commencement of works’. This is because if permission is granted NH would have 5 years to ‘start/commence’ works, and if that is not done within the 5 allocated years they lose permission. There have been legal challenges on such matters, such as in Swansea Bay.
It seems in the instance of the proposed LTC NH want ‘start/commencement’ to require a simple temporary fenced off area and some possible vegetation clearance! Concerns were voiced since the start of construction, if permission is granted, has already been delayed 2 years following the government announcement in March 2023. Local Authorities were particularly worried that what NH were proposing would not be enough to ensure the project would be progressed and how timely things would be dealt with if that was the case, as it is clear issues could be run into with such a huge and expensive project that has already suffered so many delays.
Another big point was who would be responsible for covering the cost of maintenance of the local road network impacts that would occur as a direct result of the LTC, if it goes ahead, and also structures like ‘green’ bridges. NH said that Local Highways authorities would be able to claim additional government funding for additional maintenance that would be needed. But London Borough of Havering and Transport for London were quick to point out that would not be the case of impacts within Havering, who are funded for road maintenance in a different way, and they would not be provided additional funding and felt it wrong for residents to have to ultimately foot the bill of such additional maintenance.
It was decided that wording needed to be put in place within the draft DCO to clarify who was responsible for the various aspects of ‘green’ bridges, whether that be the actual structure, the road surface, or the ‘green’ area on the bridge. NH would be responsible for the structure and ‘green’ section, with Local Highways authority responsible for the road surface over the ‘green’ bridge.
Future Issue Specific Hearings
There will be more Issue Specific Hearings in October and Nov 2023 as part of the Examination. You can find out more about the dates that have been reserved for such hearings in our LTC DCO Process Timeline Update, which will be updated with confirmed dates as soon as possible after they are confirmed.
Issue Specific Hearings – click here
Recordings and Transcripts – click here
LTC DCO Examination Updates – click here