The Transport and Works Act (TWA) lays down the system under which transport infrastructure projects of significant national importance can get off the ground outside of the normal local planning process.
Under the Act, the TWA Application has to be submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) and be advertised and publicised. The application includes a fairly detailed set of environmental impact assessments, comprising the Environmental Statement. Representations are invited from interested parties, (that means us too) some of whom will support the plan, some will support with qualifications and conditions, some will send in Objections to the plan or part of it.
Secretary of State for Transport
Taking these submissions into account the Secretary of State for Transport, previously Lord Adonis, now our very own Mr Philip Hammond, decides either to approve the application, to have an less formal hearing (not appropriate for this type of project), or have a full public inquiry.
Interested parties have 6 weeks to make representations and based on the “Objections” received last summer Lord Adonis decided that a public inquiry was necessary. However since Airtrack are not planning to build anything in Egham, it would be quite possible for the Inspector to treat Egham and our problems as completely irrelevant. Our priority has been to make sure there are so many objections from Egham concerning the effects on our level crossings that when the Inspector is appointed he is told that he must consider Egham.
The public inquiry
The public inquiry was originally planned for last 2009, but as a result of the representations, Airtrack’s promoters (BAA) decided that they needed to carry out more detailed work on the timetable and the impacts on level crossings. The results have now been published as an “Addendum to the Environmental Statement”. Since the Environmental Statement was an essential part of the application, a new “window” for representations has been opened.
Anyone who commented / objected to the application last summer in the basis of BAA’s estimated level crossing downtimes may wish to write again to reiterate their objections in the light of the new estimates.
Eventually there will be a Public Inquiry. At that point the campaign will have to be taken forward by people who understand that process, but we hope that also that by then we will have convinced our Borough Council and the County Council to put all their resources into getting our Tunnel included in the project.
Meanwhile send in your letters. If you get an acknowledgement asking if you want to participate in the Public Inquiry, say YES. Anyone who says yes has to be kept notified of the process and the timetable and any changes to the plan, and you can change your mind about participating when the time comes.