As we reported on October 23rd 2020 Highways England submitted their LTC DCO Application. The 28 days for the Planning Inspectorate to decide whether to accept the application or not are up today, Fri 20th Nov 2020. However at the last minute Highways England have announced that they have withdrawn their application, as per this email below that we have just received.
Following early feedback from the Planning Inspectorate we have withdrawn our application while we consider feedback on some elements of our documents.
It is not unusual for the Planning Inspectorate to ask for additional information from an applicant, and we will be working with them to understand what they require. We believe our application is robust and meets the requirements of planning legislation, however, we’ve decided to take the time to fully understand the Planning Inspectorate’s expectations.
We will take time to collate the information required for the specific points raised and will be resubmitting the application early in the new year. – Highways England/Lower Thames Crossing
The Planning Inspectorate’s website has now been updated to reflect the application withdrawal and includes a link to the very brief letter they recieved from HE notifying them of their wish to withdraw the application – click here to read
We at TCAG are obviously delighted by this news, but also recognise and remind others that this does not mean that HE are no longer proceeding with the LTC project, but that they will be working on the application and resubmitting it early next year. Our fight will continue, and together we are stronger!
Update 21st Nov 2020
What we now know
The Planning Inspectorate have now released a copy of notes from meetings they had with HE during November. The notes can be viewed here. Here it is in plain English for everyone:
- HE submitted their DCO on 23rd Oct 2020
- On 9th Nov the Planning Inspectorate requested that HE provide all responses to the consultation carried out under Part 5 of the Planning Act 2008. They also requested that HE provide unredacted information from the Consultation Report submitted with the application, in order to enable the information in the Consultation Report to be matched with the responses received.Unredacted means without concealing any info, so from this we can assume HE concealed certain info in the original submission of this report. Trying to keep certain info from the Planning Inspectorate, just as they have attempted to withhold info from everyone else throughout the process
- On 11th Nov HE provided the consultation responses and the unredacted information
- On 13th November the Inspectorate contacted HE to let them know that as things stood they would not be accepting the application, and identified the main issues why. HE were given the chance to provide info of where in their application documents they had covered the main points raised by the Planning Inspectorate.
- On 17th Nov HE provided a document that they presumbaly considered contained details of the revelvant info the Planning Inspectorate wanted to see.
- However, on 18th Nov the Planning Inspectorate again told HE that they would still not be accepting the application based on the info provided.
- At the last minute on the day the Planning Inspectorate were due to announce they would not be accepting HE’s DCO application HE announced they had withdrawn their application!
The Planning Inspectorate will now arrange to meet with HE to give advice in respect of the issues that were identified in the withdrawn application documents and other relevant information. HE have of course stated that they will be working on their application and aim to submit it early in 2021.
So put basically it seems HE have tried to treat the Planning Inspectorate just as they have been trying to treat us, keeping info back and not providing adequate info, and the threat of the Planning Inpectorate refusing to accept their DCO application has forced them to withdraw their application and go away and work on it before they try again!
It is worth remembering that whilst this is good news and a step in the right direction, our fight does continue. However it is nice that we now won’t have to face the expected 50-60 thousand pages of DCO documentation until next year at the earliest!
It is also worth remembering that Transport Action Network’s legal challenge, which includes LTC, is due in court early next year.
It is also highly anticipated that a legal challenge will be made in regard to Grant Shapps’ decision to grant HE’s A303 Stonehenge DCO, despite the Planning Inspectorate recommended that it be refused.
Plus lots of people and organisations are actively trying to get World Health Organization’s standards on PM2.5 enshrined into UK law, and the entire LTC route would fail against these standards.
Now more than ever is a time of uncertainty and change, who knows what could happen, we just have to keep fighting and see what happens!
Highways England have announced the decision very briefly on their website – https://highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/lower-thames-crossing/latest-news/an-update-on-our-development-consent-order/
TCAG Inadequacies of LTC Consulation report – www.thamescrossingactiongroup.com/inadequacies-of-ltc-consultation-process/