Agenda and draft minutes

Lower Thames Crossing Task Force - Monday, 14th October, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Lucy Tricker, Democratic Services Officer  Email: direct.democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

23.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Councillors Fraser Massey, Tom Kelly and Terry Piccolo sent their apologies.  Peter Ward, Thurrock Business Representative, and Westley Mercer, Thurrock Business Board Representative, also sent their apologies.

24.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 64 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force meeting held on 16 September 2019.

Minutes:

The Thames Crossing Action Group (TCAG) Representative commented that on page eight of the agenda, the minutes stated that she had mentioned a meeting with Highways England (HE) that had been arranged. She clarified that this had been said by the Assistant Director LTC.

The minutes from the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force on 16 September 2019 were approved as a correct record, subject to this change.

25.

Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

26.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

There were no interests declared.

27.

Modelling and Traffic Update pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Minutes:

The Assistant Director LTC introduced the report and commented that the briefing note referenced supplementary consultation, and although this had been reported by a newspaper in Kent, the dates or consultation itself had not yet been confirmed by HE. She added that the views in the technical note were the views of Thurrock Council, and had not been checked with HE, so therefore were subject to change.

The Representative from Peter Brett Associates (PBA) added that the technical note was separated into three sections: an explanation of the cordoned model; a list of requests for HE and Thurrock Council; and next steps/actions to be taken. She began by explaining the cordoned model, which was a section taken from the larger traffic model and only showed the borough of Thurrock. She explained that because of this, it did not show traffic south of the river or the two crossings themselves, so incidents on the crossings could not be tested. She stated that the effect of the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) could be tested and from this, they could draw conclusions and possible outcomes from bringing the LTC into the highway network. The PBA Representative explained that there was a neutral impact on the local road network, and not much change could be seen after the introduction of the LTC, with only small variation on many local road junctions. She stated that there were adverse impacts on the strategic road network in peak periods after the introduction of the LTC due to induced traffic. She added that this was to be expected in traffic modelling as it showed changes in people’s routes into and out of the borough on the strategic highway due to the LTC. She stated that the largest adverse impacts could be seen on the operation of junctions to the east of the LTC such as the Orsett Cock Roundabout and Manor Way. She added that because of these concerns PBA and Thurrock Council were taking a more detailed look at these junctions in the cordoned model. The PBA Representative stated that beneficial impacts could be seen due to the LTC on local roads such as speed improvements, and reduction of traffic on the current Dartford Crossing, on the A13 west of the LTC, and at junction 30 on the M25, as the LTC provided relief to the network. The PBA Representative summarised the audit of the cordoned model and stated that this was the view of PBA and Thurrock Council, and more investigation was still to be done on the Manor Way junction, and Orsett Cock Roundabout. She added that PBA also wanted to see the effect of the port expansion and Local Plan, as neither of these had been considered within the model.

The PBA Representative then moved on to describe section two of the technical note and the requests that had been made to HE. She described how Thurrock Council and PBA had asked for the model to be updated to include any design changes; the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

Memorandum of Understanding - Highways England (Report to be tabled) pdf icon PDF 202 KB

Minutes:

The Assistant Director LTC stated that this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) had been borne from advice given by the Planning Inspectorate, as concern had been expressed regarding data sharing by HE. She stated that the Planning Inspectorate had recommended producing an MOU to agree working arrangements in a more detailed format compared to the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA). She felt that the Council needed time to organise meetings and gather data, and this MOU would help to agree work planning time frames and expectations. The Assistant Director LTC summarised and asked for the agreement of the Task Force before it was sent to HE.

Councillor Spillman commented that he felt the proposed MOU was a good tool, and felt it was good to see a framework being put in place to ensure good working practices. The Task Force then agreed the MOU, and agreed for it to be sent to HE.

29.

A14 Cambridgeshire - River Great Ouse Viaduct (Report to be tabled) pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Minutes:

The Assistant Director LTC introduced the report and stated that this had been bought forward as an interest item. She mentioned that she and the TCAG Representative had been on a site visit to the A14 River Great Ouse Viaduct, which would be of similar height and scale to the proposed viaduct at Tilbury, and had taken pictures to show the Task Force. She stated that the proposed Tilbury viaduct would be between nine and twelve metres high. She also explained that conversations were taking place with HE over the design of the viaduct, but these could not be shared in the public domain yet. She added that HE had also hired an architect, which was unusual practice, as the landscape of the borough changed dramatically from north to south.

Councillor Spillman thanked the Assistant Director LTC and the TCAG Representative for bringing this to the Task Force, and asked if the viaduct would be low enough to obscure. The Chair also asked where the viaduct would rise and fall. The Assistant Director LTC replied that it was rise up over the Tilbury Loop Line, as it had to give clearance for the trains and Network Rail infrastructure, and would lower back down after this. She added that the viaduct would go into false cutting after the Tilbury Loop Line, which would be provided by both natural and artificial cutting.

30.

Task Force Priorities List pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Minutes:

The Assistant Director LTC introduced the report and stated that the list had not been updated for a while, so would be updated and bought back to committee for November’s meeting. The Chair asked when HE would be coming back to the Task Force. The Assistant Director LTC stated they would be invited to January’s meeting, and could be invited in November if Members had specific issues that they wished to discuss, but that they had released no new information for discussion. She stated that a HE engineer could be invited in November to discuss cut and cover, and the reasons it would not be possible along the entire route.

The Chair stated that the scheme was already over budget, and asked how much over the project budget did the scheme have to go to become unviable, such as the HS2 project. The Assistant Director LTC answered that the scheme would only stop if there were a change in government or change in transport policy. She added that the problems currently being faced by the HS2 scheme reinforced HE’s need to stay in budget, but could also provide additional funds for LTC if HS2 collapsed. She stated that a letter had been written to the Secretary of State regarding the problems with the LTC project, and once this was signed by the relevant officers, Members and Chair of the Task Force, a copy could be distributed to the Task Force. The Assistant Director LTC added that the LTC project currently had a Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) number of three, which was high. She compared this to the A303 Stonehenge scheme that had a lower BCR value of one, and was still going ahead.

31.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Minutes:

It was confirmed that Highways England would be invited to the November and January meetings of the Task Force