The Planning Inspectorate have announced that the Lower Thames Crossing DCO Inspectors have been appointed.
On the 2nd of December 2022, the Examining Authority (ExA) was appointed as a Panel of four Examining Inspectors.
The ExA was evidently appointed early to enable early decisions to be taken about the management of the Pre-examination stage. As preparation for Examination progresses, it is anticipated that a fifth Examining Inspector will be appointed to the Panel.
Feb 2023 – PINS have announced they have added a fifth member to the EXA panel.
These are the inspectors who will examine the LTC DCO application, and will then make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport on whether they believe permission should be granted or not. It is then ultimately up to the Secretary of State to decide whether they grant permission or not.
Who are the Inspectors that have been appointed?
Rynd Smith has been appointed Lead Member of the Examining Authority. Mr Smith’s name may be familiar to some, as he was also appointed to the London Resort Examining Authority prior to its withdrawal.
Dominic Young, Ken Taylor and Ken Pratt are the other members of the Examining Authority that have been announced.
Janine Laver was added as the fifth member of the panel in Feb 2023.
What have the Inspectors done so far?
They have reviewed the submitted application documents, together with advice issued by the Planning Inspectorate to National Highways (NH) on 28 November 2022 in regard to minor errors and omissions in the application documents that need correcting.
The Inspectors have made a formal decision that the updated/corrected documents from NH must be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for publication on the National Infrastructure Planning website before the start of the Relevant Representations period. This decision has been made in the public interest and also to help efficiency in the process, particularly as it is such a huge application.
Also, they have already started to familiarise themselves with the Application, the site and its surroundings. They are considering methods for and locations to hold the Preliminary Meeting and Hearings. It has been announced that they aim to ensure a mix of hearing methods (including physical events that can also be attended virtually, and virtual events) and locations, ensuring also that physical events are accessible to communities both north and south of the River Thames.
Three members of the ExA have also undertaken an Unaccompanied Site Inspection (USI) of the site on the 6th and 7th of December 2022. You can read more about the USI here.
There are further details of what the Inspectors have been working on in the Procedural Decisions and other information following issue of Acceptance decision document. With additional info in the Pre-exam Frequently Asked Questions and Log of Procedural Decisions documents.
The Examination Library has also now been published and includes details of all the application documents that have been released, which is said to be around 63,000 pages worth of documentation.