To answer any questions received from members of the public of which notice has been given under Council Procedure Rule 13
The following question had been submitted by John Milner (Gravesham and Dartford Extinction Rebellion) and a response was given by Cllr John Burden, Leader of the Council.
If the Council is still in support of the London Resort Scheme, can you explain why? In view of:-
a) LR withdrawing their DCO application (for now)
b) BBC and ITV have pulled out
c) Dartford Council and Buglife are opposed
d) Save Swanscombe Peninsula Group has 1.6k local residents amongst its numbers
e) The area is an important SSSI and we are in a biodiversity emergency
f) There are 3000 existing skilled jobs in the area which will not be surpassed by the suggested 6000 “popcorn selling” jobs
Gravesham and Dartford Extinction Rebellion
In principle the Council continues to support London Resort a £2.5 billion project. This does not mean that the Council is not acutely aware of the challenges posed by the project, many of which would not have become apparent without the due diligence and efforts of LRCH and our own officers.
As with any project of this scale, there will be local people and businesses both for and against the scheme and this is recognised.
Over these past years, I’ve spoken directly to those on both side of the fence about this scheme, and what is clear to me is that everyone wants to see the local area improve to the benefit of local people, and that is at the forefront of this Council’s approach.
The potential economic impact for the local area is considerable, with total direct jobs on site of around 11,000 full-time equivalent and with many thousands more jobs created indirectly, with around 23,000 during construction and more during its operating lifetime.
Businesses, local hotels, retailers and restaurants will also benefit.
These jobs will of course vary in nature between very skilled and less skilled, however we are a diverse community, and we do need a diverse range of jobs for all of our residents.
Unfortunately, proposals like this result in the displacement of existing occupiers. However, I am reassured by the measures London Resort have to take in compensating existing businesses and working with them under the rules to continue, if that is what they want. This may mean many of the existing jobs will be displaced to the wider local area, rather than being lost.
The new jobs provided on site, in the local supply chain and wider, are much needed.
We’re in an environment where jobs are increasingly becoming automated, skilled and spread in areas offering large commercial floorplates such as in Dartford and Thurrock.
I make no apologies for thinking about young local residents of the Borough today and wanting to do all that this Council can to ensure that they will have a variety of local job opportunities in the future.
More local jobs, also means less commuting, less congestion and less pollution.
We’re all disappointed that the application has taken such a long time and that it has then been subsequently withdrawn, but I believe London Resort are following the correct approach.
I would rather they get it right, and address the concerns of local businesses, residents and wildlife groups upfront rather than down the line after they got permission from the government if that was to happen in due course.
I’m encouraged by the announcements of PY Gerbeau and will reemphasise the need for London Resort to continue engaging but with more transparency than before with the local community, land owners, and local authorities to get agreements in place and to address outstanding issues.
I also look forward to seeing further details of how London Resort will address the infrastructure issues and biodiversity matters that have been raised by this Council and others.
London Resort have already committed to investing £150m on mitigation and habitat enhancement. If more needs to be done on biodiversity, I will be encouraging London Resort through this council to work with the Government to find solutions for addressing the unique nature of this brownfield site.