For a number of years, the Department for Transport has been exploring different locations for an additional Thames crossing, with the aim of alleviating growing traffic congestion at the existing Dartford Crossing. Following a series of studies, a public consultation, and a comprehensive impact assessment, the Secretary of State for Transport announced that the preferred route would be a tunnel under the Thames east of Gravesend and Tilbury.
Following the Secretary of State’s announcement, Highways England launched a 10-week statutory consultation in October 2018. The consultation received over 28,000 responses, making it the biggest consultation of its type.
Traverse was appointed to process, analyse and report on the responses received to the consultation. We were involved from the outset of the project, providing advice on the questionnaire design, the response channels and use of language to support an effective and inclusive consultation.
- As a statutory consultation, the project had to adhere to strict requirements in how the consultation was delivered, analysed and reported. Traverse was able to successfully meet the elements for which we were responsible:
- Our in-house consultation system and established data protocols helped us ensure that the different respondent types (prescribed consultees, landowners and members of the public) were clearly identified so that they could be reported on separately, in line with statutory requirements.
- We produced three distinct reporting outputs to respond to the multiple client’s needs. These included a summary report designed to serve as a public record of the process, a tabular report which allowed the client to respond systematically to the different issues raised in the consultation feedback and a non-technical summary which presented the outcomes of the consultation in a way which was easy to digest.
- Throughout the project, the client could follow live the analysis process via a secure review site. This gave them live and early access to the emerging findings and helped them meet their challenging internal deadlines.
Our work on this project demonstrated our ability to work with exceptionally large datasets (over 5 million words) without compromising on the quality of the delivery and fully meeting statutory requirements. The prelim report is available on the Highways England site.