LTC DCO Timeline

We know that the Development Consent Order (DCO) process is new to most people, so we’ve published an LTC DCO Timeline update to help you through the process of what has happened so far, and what is happening next.  We hope you find it helpful!

Please click through on each event for more info, including the deadlines for registering to attend and speak.

National Highways (NH) submitted their Development Consent Order (DCO) application for the proposed Lower Thames Crossing on Fri 23rd October 2020.

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) were due to announce their decision on Fri 20th Nov 2020, as to whether they would be accepting the application or not.

At the eleventh hour NH announced they had withdrawn their LTC DCO application. We later discovered that PINS were due to refuse the application due to a lack of adequate information, and the Adequacy of Consultations submitted by Local Authorities and TCAG.

NH said they would be working on the application and aimed to resubmit it early in the new year. NH’s Matt Palmer stated the aim was to submit within 90-120 days of the application being withdrawn, a self set target that they failed to meet.

There have been two subsequent LTC consultations, the Community Impacts Consultation in 2021, and the Local Refinements Consultation in 2022.

This means that there has now been around 2 years since the first attempt to submit the LTC DCO application.

More info on the first DCO attempt can be found here

We will of course do our best to keep everyone up to date as things progress, but we would also suggest that people sign up for the Planning Inspectorate’s email updates specifically for the LTC.

This should also ensure that you are alerted as soon as the registration for Interested Parties begins, so you can ensure that you can continue to be involved and have your say! (More on that below)

To sign up for the PINS updates please click through and enter your email address in the 'Email updates' box and click 'Sign up'.


National Highways announced that the LTC DCO application was resubmitted on Mon 31st October 2022.

The application should include all the supporting DCO documentation. Including all that info that we have been asking for for years and NH have refused to share, stating it will be available in the DCO.

PINS will now review the application to decide whether the documentation is adequate for the Examination.  They will also consider Local Authority Adequacy of Consultation representations.

TCAG update on the resubmission of the LTC DCO.

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) have advised that the LTC DCO documents have been published HERE

Whilst they are not accepting comments at this time, it does give us a chance to review the documents.

To be clear no decision has yet been made or announced regarding whether the application will be accepted for examination.

As soon as the application has been submitted, the host Local Authorities (councils impacted by the project) have 14 days to submit their ‘Adequacy of Consultation’ representations.

PINS then take 14 days to review the ‘Adequacy of Consultation’ representations, and decide whether they consider the consultation for the LTC has been adequate.

Whilst it is only the Local Authorities that PINS will officially invite to submit representation on the Adequacy of Consultation, it is possible to send representations to PINS ourselves, as TCAG and others did in 2020.

TCAG 2022 Inadequacies of LTC Consultation representation

Read all the submitted Adequacy of Consultation representations
The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) announced on 28th Nov 2022 that the LTC DCO application has been accepted for examination.

It is important to note that this decision is purely about the application being accepted for Examination, and doesn't mean the DCO permission has been or will necessarily be granted.

The LTC DCO application documents are available online here.

TCAG update on the LTC DCO application being accepted for Examination.

In December 2020 PINS announced that the first four members of the LTC DCO Examining Authority had been appointed.

In February 2023 a further announcement was made regarding the appointment of a fifth Inspector.

TCAG update on appointment of the Examining Authority Inspectors

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) announced that the registration period for Interested Parties opened on Monday 9th January 2023.

Anyone wishing to participate in the LTC DCO process had to register as an Interested Party.  The deadline to register was 24th Feb 2023.

Those who successfully registered as an Interested Party were issued with a Unique Reference number, which they will need to quote when registering for meetings and hearings, and/or submitting written submissions during the Examination.

All Interested Parties will also receive official emails from PINS throughout the DCO process.

Whilst there is a deadline to register the PINS team can sometimes, at their discretion, make allowances after the deadline if there are special circumstances.

If you need to contact the LTC PINS team regarding any questions on registration or your unique reference number please email or call 0303 444 5000.

Related
TCAG Registering as an Interested Party update

The Planning Inspectorate issued a Procedural Decision letter addressed to Thurrock Council, this relates to and asks questions about Thurrock Council’s participation in the LTC DCO.

TCAG update on Thurrock Council's position Procedural Decision letter.

Relevant Representations are the comments people submitted at the time of registration as Interested Parties.

PINS published the Relevant Representations on 13th March 2023.

There are 1,147  representations.

NB. There was a technical glitch when the Relevant Representations were first published, but this was corrected by the 21st March 2023.

PINS use the Relevant Representations to help them get an insight into the main concerns and issues.  This also assists them in planning the Examination timetable. 

Since the Examination period is strictly 6 months, and can not be extended, our representations help PINS understand what is likely to need to be covered in Examination, and plan accordingly as best they can.  Obviously with such a huge and complex project as the proposed LTC, this is not an easy task.

PINS issued some Procedural Decisions on 21st March 2023.

These included:
  • Requesting comments from National Highways in relation to the Written Ministeral Statement of 09 March 2023
  • Requesting comments from National Highways in relation to a request by Thurrock Council to delay the examination
  • In relation to a notification from National Highways to submit a request for changes to the application.


TCAG update on 21st March 2023 Procedural Decisions

PINS/the Examining Authority (ExA) issued a Procedural Decision on 6th April 2023.

This included details of responses from the 21st March requests for further info from National Highways and Thurrock Council.  It also highlighted there would be a Programming Meeting, with details to follow.  A submission from Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council was also accepted and published.

Anyone who wishes to:
  • request to be heard at the Programming Meeting on 16th May 2023
  • send a written submission in advance of the Programming Meeting

needs to register and/or send their submission by 23:45 on Fri 5th May 2023.

The Examining Authority will only be covering topics that are listed on the agenda for the Programming Meeting, which can be found in the Rule 6 letter.  This meeting is open to any registered Interested Parties, but predominantly aimed at the host Local Authorities.  The meeting is not about examining the actual LTC project, but to help prepare the Examination timeline and other associated matters. We have listed more info about the actual meeting further down the list of the process.

If you wish to attend and/or participate in the Programming Meeting you must register by completing the Event Participation Form by Procedural Deadline A (23:45 on Friday 5 May 2023).

Please note that you do not have to register to be able to simply watch the meeting live or the recording after the event, which will be available via the PINS LTC webpage on the day of the meeting.

This information is taken from the LTC DCO Rule 6 letter.



 
The Programming Meeting is predominantly aimed at Local Authorities.  This meeting is about discussing and planning for the Examination.  It is not an opportunity to comment on the LTC project.

More info

  Details
Date: Tuesday 16 May 2023

Virtual registration on the day from: 9:15am | Hearing starts: 10am

Where: This hearing will be held virtually via Microsoft Teams. Full instructions on how to join online or by telephone will be provided in advance to those who have pre-registered by Procedural Deadline A (23:45 on Friday 5 May 2023).

Watch If you simply wish to observe the meeting, then you do not need to register as you will be able to watch a livestream of the event. A link to the livestream will be made available on the project webpage shortly before the event is scheduled to begin. You will also be able to watch the recording of the meeting which will be published on the project webpage shortly after the meeting has finished.

The  Rule 6 Letter has been issued.  This is an official document that details the Programming Meeting, Preliminary Meetings, and Deadlines.  It also includes a draft Examination Timetable, and lots of details about the DCO process and how to take part.

All Interested Parties are invited to attend the Preliminary Meetings, on the 6th and 20th June 2023. These are run and chaired by the Examining Authority. The Preliminary Meetings are to arrange how the Examination will take place, and will not cover the merits of the project.

The Preliminary Meetings will be the last part of the Pre-Examination stage. The Examination straight after the Preliminary Hearing.  The first hearing of the Examination will be the Open Floor Hearing 1 from 6pm on 20th June 2023.

If you wish to make any comments on the Programming Meeting that took part on 16 May 2023, or participate in the Preliminary Meeting (Part 1) that takes place on 6th June 2023 you need to register and/or make your submission by Procedural Deadline B, 23:45 on 26th May 2023.

Please note that Preliminary Meetings are purely in regard to the planning of the DCO Examination and comments on the merits of the LTC project will not be heard, that will come during the Examination stage.

National Highways also have until this deadline to submit proposed Accompanied Site Inspection Itineraries to the Examining Authority.

Find out more...

Before the Examination begins there will some planning meetings.  These are purely to help go through and plan the Examination timetable to ensure everything runs are smoothly as it can, since the Examination period is strictly 6 months.  With a project a huge as the proposed LTC this means there will be a lot of info to examine, so planning will be very important.

The merits of the actual project will not be discussed at the Preliminary Meetings. There will be opportunity to voice opinion and evidence about the LTC project during the Examination stage.

Preliminary Meeting 1 will take place on the 6th June 2023.

Find out more...

To take part in this meeting you need to register by Procedural Deadline B on 26th May 2023.



TCAG update on Preliminary Meetings

If you wish to make any comments on Preliminary Meeting 1 or the proposed Accompanied Site Inspection Itineraries, or participate in the Preliminary Meeting (Part 2) and/or Examination Hearings (between 20 June and 6th July 2023) you need to register and/or make your submission by Procedural Deadline C, 23:45 on 13th June 2023.

Please note that Preliminary Meetings are purely in regard to the planning of the DCO Examination and comments on the merits of the LTC project will not be heard, that will come during the Examination stage.

Find out more...

Before the Examination begins there will some planning meetings.  These are purely to help go through and plan the Examination timetable to ensure everything runs are smoothly as it can, since the Examination period is strictly 6 months.  With a project a huge as the proposed LTC this means there will be a lot of info to examine, so planning will be very important. The merits of the actual project will not be discussed at these meetings.

Preliminary Meeting 2 will take place on the 20th June 2023.

Find out more...

If you wish to attend and take part in Preliminary Meeting 2 you need to register by Procedural Deadline C on 13th June 2023.



TCAG Update on Preliminary Meetings

The Planning Inspectorate has up to six months maximum to carry out the examination, and no longer.

During this stage all Interested Parties will be invited to provide more details of their views either verbally at meetings or in writing.

Careful consideration is given by the Examining Authority to all the important and relevant matters including the representations of all Interested Parties, any supporting evidence submitted and answers provided to the Examining Authority’s questions set out in writing or posed at hearings.



The Draft Examination Timetable 2023

Registration for hearings between 20 June and 6 July need to be in by Deadline C (13 June)
Tues 20th June - 6pm -  Open Floor Hearing 1 (OFH1)

Weds 21st June - 10am - Issue Specific Hearing 1 (ISH1)
Topic: Project Definition

Thurs 22nd June - 10am - Issue Specific Hearing 2 (ISH2)
Topic: Draft DCO

Fri 23rd June - 10am -  Continuation Hearings (if required)
Topic: as required depending on whether extra time is needed for either Issue Specific Hearings 1 or 2

Weds 28th June - 10am - Open Floor Hearing 2 (OFH2)

Thurs 29th June - 10am - Open Floor Hearing 2 (OFH2) (Continuation if required)

Weds 5th July - 10am - Open Floor Hearing 3 (OFH3)

Thurs 6th July - 10am - Open Floor Hearing 3 (OFH3) (Continuation if required)

Registration for hearings after 6 July need to be in by Deadline D (18 July)

Tues 18th July (23:59)Deadline 1 (D1)

Tues 18th July - Procedural Deadline D (PDD)

Thurs 3rd August (23:59) - Deadline 2 (D2)

Tues 15th August - Publication of ExA's First Written Questions

Thurs 24th August (23:59) - Deadline 3 (D3)

4th-11th August - Dates reserved for:
  • Open Floor Hearings (OFH) (if required)
  • Issue Specific Hearings (ISH) (if required)
  • Compulsory Acquisition Hearings (CAH) (if required)
  • Accompanied Site Inspection (ASI) (if required)

Tues 19th September (23:59) - Deadline 4 (D4)

Tues 3rd October (23:59) - Deadline 5 (D5)

Tues 10th October - Publication of ExAs further written questions (if required)

16th - 24th October - Dates reserved for:
  • Open Floor Hearings (OFH) (if required)
  • Issue Specific Hearings (ISH) (if required)
  • Compulsory Acquisition Hearings (CAH) (if required)

Tues 31st October (23:59) - Deadline 6 (D6)

Tues 14th Nov - Publication by the ExA of:
  • Report on the Implications for European Sites (RIES) and any associated questions (if required)
  • ExA’s commentary on, or schedule of changes to, the dDCO (if required)
  • Examining Authority’s further Written Questions (ExQ) (if required)

Fri 17th November (23:59) - Deadline 7 (D7)

20th - 28th November - Dates reserved for:
  • Open Floor Hearings (OFH) (if required)
  • Issue Specific Hearings (ISH) (if required)
  • Compulsory Acquisition Hearings (CAH) (if required)
  • Further ASI (if required)

Tues 5th December (23:59) - Deadline 8 (D8)

Fri 15th December (23:59) - Deadline 9 (D9)

Weds 20th December (23:59) - Deadline 10 (D10)

Weds 20th December - LTC DCO Examination ends



 
There is a strict deadline that DCO Examinations can only last a maximum of 6 months.

The LTC DCO Examination will end on Weds 20th December 2023.

The Planning Inspectorate must prepare a report on the application to the Secretary of State for Transport, including a recommendation, within three months of the close of the six month Examination stage.

The Secretary of State for Transport, has a period of three months after the recommendation is made to make the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.

This means that the decision should be made by 20th June 2024.

Although this is the usual timeline for decision it is possible that delays can occur, and extensions are made.

Once a decision has been issued by the Secretary of State for Transport, there is a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.

There are very specific grounds on which a JR can be made, so this has to be reviewed and decided upon at the appropriate time.

Dependent on any Judicial Review results, if the DCO is still deemed granted construction of the project can commence.

NB. If permission is granted for the LTC, construction has been delayed by 2 years, meaning it is not expected to begin until at least June 2026.  This follows the government announcement on 9th March 2023.

 

Related

LTC DCO Updates Indexclick here