LTC Construction

If the proposed Lower Thames Crossing is granted a Development Consent Order (DCO), this will mean permission to begin construction.  Until such time the construction would be illegal. Any works you see before that are investigative works and this is usual in projects of this scale in preparation of the Development Consent Order (DCO) application.  They do NOT have permission yet!

We’ve highlighted some of the construction aspects of the proposed LTC on this update, and obviously there’s also the HE Construction Update document available too.

 

Absolutely not! And if you have any evidence to prove otherwise please report it immediately as it would be illegal!

Highways England cannot begin construction of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing until such time as they are granted a Development Consent Order (DCO).

HE attempted to submit a DCO application in Oct 2020, but then withdrew it at the eleventh hour in Nov 2020, as the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) were due to refuse it.

HE have said they aim to resubmit the DCO application for LTC before Christmas 2021. If they do, and the application is accepted the application then goes through a considerable Examination, that we can all register to continue taking part in. Once that ends PINS will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport, currently Grant Shapps, who will then take 3 months to make a decision on whether to grant the DCO or not. Unless a DCO is granted construction of the LTC cannot legally begin.

It is also worth noting that there is a six week period for appeals to be made. Also that recent legal challenges by campaigners fighting the A38 Derby and A303 Stonehenge all won cases that resulted in the DCOs for both projects being quashed.

Any works you are seeing now are purely investigative works, this is standard practice for large projects like LTC, and helps with the preparation of the DCO application.
Obviously HE need to be granted a Development Consent Order (DCO) before construction can begin, but with their current timeline they estimate that construction could begin in 2024 if they are granted the DCO.



Highways England have estimated that it would be around 6-7 years of construction, if they are granted permission for the project.
24/7 construction hours

HE advised in the Supplementary Consultation that they were proposing 24/7 works in the tunnelling for 4.5 to 5 years, and that dependant on season (daylight etc) other construction sites would be open from 6am-11pm Mon – Fri, 6am-5pm Saturdays, and some work on Sundays.

We thought that was bad enough, and then in this latest Community Impacts Consultation we have discovered considerable areas marked on the map as 'New 24/7 construction areas'.  Obviously we are extremely concerned about this latest development.

To view further details of these new 24/7 construction areas click through and read our New 24/7 Construction Hours update.
We've covered compounds and routes before in our update here, but below are some more images taken from the Community Impacts Consultation Construction Update document.

The first shows the construction sections/zones. Then the compounds. Then the utility logistic hubs.

You can find all the info in HE's Construction Update document here

 
The locations of the construction sections

Taken from page 9 (11/312 pdf) of the Construction Update (Community Impacts Consultation)

Construction compounds in Sections A and B

Taken from page 51 (53/312 pdf) of the Construction Update (Community Impacts Consultation)

Construction compounds in Sections C and D

Taken from page 52 (54/312 pdf) of the Construction Update (Community Impacts Consultation)



 
Utility Logistics Hubs in Sections A and B
Taken from page 55 (57/312 pdf) of the Construction Update (Community Impacts Consultation)



 
Utility Logistics Hubs in Sections C and D
Taken from page 56 (58/312 pdf) of the Construction Update (Community Impacts Consultation)





   
Obviously with a project as huge as the proposed Lower Thames Crossing there will be thousands of workers involved if it goes ahead, so what about LTC workers accommodation?

Highways England are very vocal about the 22,000 jobs that the proposed LTC would create, but where are all these workers going to live if the project goes ahead?

One of the first things to consider is probably where are the workers likely to be coming from?  We know there are a number of very large scale projects going on in the area and indeed in the country as a whole, so the construction industry would be quite thinly spread if they all go ahead.

There have already been cases of staff shortages due to workers moving between projects where the best pay and conditions are at the time.

It also means that workers are likely to be travelling from further afield, despite HE saying they aim to use local workers and companies.



 
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Most definitely yes.

Some places would see roads closed for years during construction.

There would be a need for things like bus services to be diverted.

For example, the diversion that would need to be put in place due to the Ockendon Road closure would see a 10km detour.

These closures would impact access to homes, businesses, schools, crematorium. Not to mention serious concerns about access for emergency services.

If the proposed LTC goes ahead then there would certainly be air, noise, light, vibration, water, soil pollution in many areas.

There have already been issues from lighting rigs during the investigative works. HE contractors not positioning the lighting correctly and safely, causing light pollution and serious hazards to road users.

The sheer scale and 24/7 working during construction would mean lots of lighting rigs being used which would cause issues for both us and wildlife/nature. Read more

As you can imagine there would also be associated noise from construction if the LTC goes ahead, with long working hours, including 24/7 working. The impacts of noise pollution for such a long duration over the years would really impact people's health and well-being, and have a negative impact on wildlife/nature too.

There would also be some vibration due to construction which could impact properties, and also pose a risk to some older properties. So not only the vibration pollution, but also the associated stress to some home owners.

We also have concerns over water pollution, especially from contamination at compounds seeping into watercourses etc.

There is also the concern over the contamination of soil where and near where construction would be taking place. Some of the land is on or near agricultural land, some of which is top quality grade 1 listed soil.

Even during investigative works we have heard of issues of HE contractors attempting to lay contaminated tracks to drive over in fields that are grade 1 listed soil.

In fact the associated stress to everyone from these various impacts of construction would take it's toll on us all, and is something we should be rightly concerned about.

Plus as well as the risk of pollution in so many ways, there is also the question of where the power for all these works comes from, and this is one of the reasons for some of the utilities works too, to ensure adequate supply of electricity to the construction companies at the compounds etc. This would include water supply too, specifically for the tunnel boring machine as it works constantly for 24/7 for 4.5-5 years.
LTC Carbon Emissions

Carbon emissions from construction of LTC alone are estimated to be around 2 million tonnes. Plus a further 3.2 million tonnes in the first 60 years of operation.

So all in all they are estimating over 5 million tonnes of carbon emissions for the LTC.

Read our Carbon Emissions update.
The tunnelling for the proposed LTC would start from the northern side of the River Thames in the East Tilbury area.

Once it starts it would be 24/7 for 4.5-5 years non-stop.

The tunnel section of the proposed LTC tunnel would be the longest road tunnel in the UK, at 2.6 miles long . At 16m wide, these tunnels would also be some of the largest bored tunnels in the world, if it goes ahead, according to HE.

At the centre of the river the tunnel would be around 30m below the riverbed, and around 50m below the surface of the river, so there will be no impact on the navigable channel.  

To construct the tunnel two million cubic metres of material would be dug from the tunnels and other associated works in the area

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LTC Spoil – Rivenhall?  It has been brought to our attention that a planning application for a site in Rivenhall, Essex (near Witham) mentions potential disposal of LTC spoil – click here
Before construction of the actual road could begin utility works would need to be carried out.

There would be a considerable amount of utilities that would need to be moved, including electricity pylons and cables, gas pipes, communications (phone and internet), etc.

Before any works could start HE and their contractors would need to ensure that impacted wildlife was taken care of.

We use that terminology in a very loose way, as in our opinion the best way to take care of the wildlife and nature would be to leave it alone.

One of the things we note is that HE propose that trees would be cut down during winter before birds start nesting season. However, we are very aware that many trees, especially in the ancient woodland will have hibernating bats in them which cannot legally be moved once hibernating.

There would of course be other types of creatures too that would be hibernating, nesting etc throughout the many seasons of the many years of construction.
Obviously HE would get contractors/construction companies in to do the works, if LTC goes ahead.  We keep being told that the detail we are asking for on certain things is not available as it will be decided upon by the contractors, if the LTC goes ahead.  Some guidelines are agreed, and then it is up to the contractors to decide how the work is carried out and completed.

For example, HE will state where the noise barriers need to be placed, and how long and high they need to be. But it will be up to the contractors to decide how and of what they are constructed.

So how much can we trust HE and their contractors?

We have already witnessed issues just during the investigative works, which doesn't bode well for what might happen if LTC goes ahead.

Not only that you only have to take a look at some of HE's infilling of bridges to witness what HE apparently deem acceptable standards for work.

Even those in the industry have deemed these 'works' vandalism, and it's not hard to see why, take a look at this photo.



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