As you know from previous updates the LTC Development Consent Order (DCO) was withdrawn on Fri 20th Nov 2020. Highways England (HE) made a statement regarding the withdrawal. Here we highlight some of the reasons for the LTC DCO withdrawal, from others including impacted local authorities. The evidence provided in the responses below clearly shows why the Planning Inspectorate would have refused the LTC DCO application, had HE not have chosen to withdraw it.
As the impacted local authority to the southern end of the proposed LTC route Gravesham Council have recently updated their website with their response to the Adequacy of Consultation to the Planning Inspectorate
- Gravesham Adequacy of Consultation response
- Appendix 1: Responses Received on Adequacy of Consultation
- Appendix 1a: Thames Crossing Action Group response
- Appendix 2: Gravesham Statement of Community Consultation Response (2018)
- Appendix 3: Comments on Preliminary Environmental Impact Report
We’d like to thank Gravesham Council for including the whole of our TCAG response within their response to the Planning Inspectorate. We had submitted it to the Planning Inspectorate ourselves also, but it is the impacted local authorities responses that really hold the weight as they legally have to be considered.
Thurrock Council have advised us that they will be sharing their Adequacy of Consultation response to their website shortly. We will share as soon as they are published.
We contacted Havering Council and they have sent us this copy of their Adequacy of Consultation.LBH-Adequacy of ConsultationResponse06112020
Joint local authorities (Gravesham, Thurrock, and Havering)
As well as submitting their own Adequacy of Consultation responses to the Planning Inspectorate, all of the impacted local authorities also worked together on a joint response.
They also released the following statement – www.thurrock.gov.uk/news/thames-crossing/joint-statement-on-lower-thames-crossing
We submitted our own ‘Inadequacies of LTC Consultation‘ evidence to the Planning Inspectorate – the full report can be viewed here
The Planning Inspectorate
The Planning Inspectorate have released notes of their meeting with HE regarding the main points of why they were due to refuse the LTC DCO application, had HE not chosen to withdraw it. Compared to the few short points HE have been mentioning in their announcement, the Planning Inspectorate document is 49 pages long! The notes can be viewed here.
We are aware that at times there has been some confusion regarding the reporting of the withdrawal of the LTC DCO application. Therefore, we want to take a moment to try and offer some clarity on the situation.
Firstly, the Planning Inspectorate were considering whether to accept the LTC DCO application, not the project. This means that had the application not been withdrawn or refused it still would have had to go through the DCO process of a Pre Examination, Examination, and then Recommendation stage, before the Secretary of State for Transport (currently Grant Shapps MP) makes a decision on whether to grant the DCO or not.
Bearing that in mind, it is not the LTC project that has been withdrawn, it is the LTC DCO application. HE have every intention, and have stated publicly that they are aiming to resubmit the LTC DCO application next year. At which point it will again be up to the Planning Inspectorate to decide if the resubmitted DCO application is adequate enough to be accepted.
It is also worth noting that the resubmission of the DCO application will still be for the same LTC route. Remember it is not the route that the Planning Inspectorate were considering at this stage, but purely whether the application and associated documents were adequate enough to be progressed to the Examination stage, which is when the actual project will be considered. HE have confirmed they will not be changing the route before resubmitting.
So whilst, the withdrawal of the LTC DCO application is good news as it confirms what we have been saying all along, that HE are not providing adequate information, and confirms the high level of concern over the inadequacy of consultation, this is not the end of our fight against LTC. HE will be back in 2021 to resubmit their LTC DCO application.
What will happen next?
We know HE aim to resubmit the application next year, but other than that who knows! We are definitely living in interesting times.
It is worth noting that even if the resubmission is accepted on the next attempt will still have to go through an Examination stage, which we can all register to be a part of, to continue having our say.
Transport Action Network have two legal challenges against the Government about the £27bn RIS2 road building programme, which includes the LTC. There is also a legal challenge against Grant Shapps decision, as Secretary of State for Transport, to grant a DCO for the A303 Stonehenge project, despite the Planning Inspectorate recommending that it be refused.
The world’s eyes will be on the UK next year as we host the UN hold COP26, their Climate Change Conference of the Parties. The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This at a time when our Government is being legally challenged on their road building programme on environmental issues. A time when the UK Government have announced a new ambitious target to reduce the UK’s emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Yet are pushing ahead with road building programmes with huge Carbon Emissions, the LTC alone is predicted to create over 5m tonnes of Carbon Emissions.
We need to keep fighting and spreading the word that the LTC is hugely destructive and harmful, and is simply not fit for purpose.
Together we are stronger!