The following is information requested by Cranage parish clerk for inclusion in the newsletter to be distributed in January 2016.

M6 smart motorway scheme

This information is provided by Peter Wild, resident of Cranage, December 2015
Residents should all be aware by now that the M6 as it passes through cranage is to be upgraded to a smart motorway from junction 16 to junction 19, with a budget of £192 to 272 million.

This will require the hard shoulder to become a fourth lane in continuous use; there will be overhead gantries that will give lane instructions and speed limits. Approximately every two kilometres a pull in point will be constructed if you break down. Although how if you have a complete tyre blow out in a middle lane, you get to a pull in point is not made clear. The works are commencing now and will continue for two years at least.

The motorway carries 140,000 vehicles each day on this stretch and it will have the potential after the upgrade to carry 180,000 vehicles each day.

A number of residents have voiced concerns that need to be addressed by Highways England, with regard to the noise levels and the pollution that is generated by the motorway.

The world health authority (WHO) have carried out studies, as have the European Union and various university studies. All say that daytime levels of 55 decibels and 40 decibels night-time is the safe level for residents’ health, anything above these levels can cause increased blood pressure, along with cardiovascular problems and an increased risk of strokes, even if you are asleep it will still effect you. Residents are recording noise levels in the 68 to 72 decibel range day and night.

The other problem that puts an even greater number of residents at risk is the pollution, this is a mixture of gases and fine particles, the gases are nitrogen oxides known as NOx and comes from all exhausts, the worst from diesel engines, the particles known as particulates M10 or M2.5 come from exhausts as unburnt carbon, tyre wear and road surface wear along with brake and clutch plate wear.

Both M10 and M2.5 are a serious danger to residents’ health, the European Union have set targets but it must be said that there is no minimum safe level for health this is all backed up by WHO along with other widely excepted scientists  and health experts. The M2.5 particulates are the most dangerous, in that they can enter the lungs and be directly transferred to the blood supply, studies have shown a direct link to various types of cancers and breathing problems, including asthma related ones in both the very young and the old, who are at the most risk of developing disease from particulates.

Studies also show that life expectancy is reduced by several years both by the noise levels and the pollution, again all widely accepted to be correct.

The government has been taken to the Supreme Court over its failure to address the targets laid down by the EU, and is about to be taken back to the Supreme Court due to its failure to produce a robust enough plan to tackle the problem.
Despite repeated requests to Highways England to address the problems they have refused to engage with residents.
Several residents along with Mike Hodge the PC chairman and councillor Les Gilbert, held a meeting with our MP Fiona Bruce, who wholeheartedly backs the residents case, and is indeed engaging with the ministers responsible, to ask that a serious look is taken at what mitigation can be introduced to reduce the noise and pollution.

We have provided Highways England with several schemes used in Europe that reduce the noise and also capture pollution but again no feedback whatsoever. For example, we have sent details of gabion noise barriers that are cheap to install and are maintenance free, all they say is it’s not in our remit to address this problem. We have tried to engage Cheshire East officers but again all we get is that the highways is doing what it can, although it must be said that Councillor Les Gilbert has been very active in support of residents. We have requested a meeting with Cheshire East’s officers to discuss our concerns and what solutions we can offer, but to date we have had no response.

At the recent public meeting held at the village hall, Highways England were asked are you going to do anything about the noise, twice they said no we are not. Pollution they say is not there problem but one for Cheshire East to deal with. But Cheshire East haven’t got the funds to deal effectively with this problem, and will be facing the prospect of paying the fines levied by the Supreme Court for not complying with the EU directive. Why, because the government is trying to make the local authorities responsible for clean air, and that means paying the fines.

So what can residents do?

  1. Send letters and e-mails to the Chief Executive the Mayor and the new leader of Cheshire East to demand something is done about safeguarding residents’ health.
  2. Send letters and e-mails to Highways England demanding the same

There is overwhelming evidence that proves what we are saying is based on facts, and the general public is waking up fast to the fact that pollution including noise is the one of the biggest killers of our generation. Official figures show that over a thousand people every day are diagnosed with cancer in the UK, some of which can be attributed to pollution.

The cost to the NHS caused by health problems related to noise and pollution is predicted to be billions of pounds each year. Money spent now to reduce the source is well spent.
Further information and regular updates can be found on the Cranage Parish Chronicle web page.

Contact details below that you may wish to use.

Fiona Bruce       [email protected]
Mike Suarez, Chief Executive Cheshire east   [email protected]
Deputy leader Cheshire East,  David Brown portfolio holder for highways                     [email protected]
Cheshire East Mayor Hilda Gaddum            [email protected]
Kate Bernie Highways England            [email protected]
Lorraine Butler Highways England        [email protected]
CEO of highways England Jim Osullivan     [email protected]
Councillor Les Gilbert        [email protected]
Councillor Andrew Kolker     [email protected]
Mike Hodge  Chairman cranage parish council     [email protected]