Verbal update on Highway England's Lower Thames Crossing project
The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager provided a verbal update on Highway England's Lower Thames Crossing project that included the following presentation:
The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager fielded questions from the Committee and highlighted the following:
· All Members will be invited to attend a presentation from Highways England on 27 February 2020.
· Further information is required to fully understand the impact of the Lower Thames crossing on ancient woodland / heritage assets. Contact will be made with the Woodland Trust to get their views.
· The hydrological implications of the Lower Thames Crossing are not yet fully understood; but discussions are underway with Natural England.
· The change from 3 lanes down to 2 southbound from M25 to A13 was noted along with only 2 lanes on A2 through A2/LTC junction
· It is not clear how much development has been included in the transport modelling to produce a reasonable worst case for Environmental Assessment as well as Treasury (Green Book) requirements
· Short term spoil storage is proposed at the north end of Thong Lane. There may also be the opportunity to make the Blue Lake in Northfleet shallower.
· There is no new information on air quality or noise at the moment.
· Design standards are used when considering the safety of roads etc.
· Discussions on tunnel safety are underway between emergency services and Highways England
· The Council is exploring the adequacy of the environmental information to date to allow consultees to take an informed view of the implications of the scheme
Members expressed their concern over the lack of information from Highways England and the small window of consultation.
The Committee agreed that:
· The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager should provide all Members with a briefing note that highlights the key issues / concerns with the latest Lower Thames Crossing consultation that Members can take with them into the community.
· In preparation for the Member briefing from Highways England on 27 February 2020; the Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager should forward the following concerns of the Committee to Highways England so Highways England are prepared to respond to this concerns at the briefing:
- The consultation period is woefully tight given the lack of information / uncertainties that are hampering the Council’s ability to evaluate and respond adequately.
- Environmental impact: air quality / mitigation measures. How and when do Highways England propose to tackle this issue?
- Traffic modelling: this appears to be a major weakness. Incorrectly scoping the scale of vehicle movements and thereby reducing the size of the motorway will have a huge impact that may need correcting (widening) in the future.
- Ramsar site protection and ancient woodland / heritage protection - how will Highways England engage with the Council and other organisations on these matters?
- Public Transport does not appear to have been considered – how will Highways England engage on this issue?
The Principal Transport and NSIP Project Manager advised Members to come and see him if they had any further issues on this subject.
Note: Cllr Lee Croxton spoke with the leave of the Chair on this item