This week a letter was received from Fiona Bruce MP by Peter Wild who is one of the committee members of the residents action group recently formed with a parish council and Cheshire east council member and other residents.
It was to inform him that she had sent his letter of the 3rd of September.to the northwest regional director at highways England to address the specific questions
This contained references to what was proposed by the then highways agency in 1994 to form a bund with a fence on top of a total height of 4 metres to protect the whole of cranage, to mitigate the noise problems that they admitted existed in 1994
The secretary of state at the time issued this as an order, but funding was withdrawn when the national government changed.
The fact that since that time the amount of traffic has doubled and is now predicted to rise on completion of the road works to 188.000 per day only makes the problems more acute. Yet now highways England say there is no problem.
The action group are in the process of obtaining funds for a specialist company to look at the data that highways are relying on and how that data can have changed from 1994.
Copy of Mr Wilds letter can be seen in full below
Fiona Bruce MP date 3rd September 2017
House of Commons
Thank you for your letter dated 29th of August and the enclosed letter from Jesse Norman MP
I would like to draw your attention to parts of his letter.
Although its pleasing to see that the proposed fence is to be Tillons noise absorbing type, it’s not being put anywhere near my property. Allotment Wood referred to is north of my house, and it starts from the other side of oak tree lane, so will not offer any reduction to not only my house but most of the residents on Oak Tree Lane. They will still have direct line of site to the M6 after the fence is installed. Its position will not offer any reduction to the majority of the houses on Oak Tree Lane.
Its previously proposed position was further to the south and would provide some reduction but would be required to be higher than 3mts and a good deal longer than the 49mts proposed to protect these houses
In the third paragraph reference is made to 20db whilst I agree this may or may not be referring to lab conditions it was not stated as lab conditions by Tilons representatives including the owner at the meeting.
But the last line is pertinent in that real life conditions can be very different. That’s exactly the point we have been trying to make.
In the third paragraph and onwards it refers to a predictive noise model.
It also goes on to say base line surveys were undertaken to validate the model.
The survey that was done was not reflective of the actual situation and only comprised of two short time periods less than a day each and from only outside the property known as Allotment Wood ,they did not revisit all the data positions nor did it take into account the wind speed or direction ,or accurate weather details and most crucial if the motorway was actually running for the length of time data was taken.
My land area totals over seven acres and after we first moved here over 25 years ago it was proposed to widen the M6 in 1994, and a public meeting was organised by Highways, at which data was supplied by Highways about noise levels and one of the data points was in the middle of one of my fields, when I asked them when did you take that reading I was informed that they had not entered my property but that a computer came up with a reading.
Now given that they now state they have carried out base line survey to back up the computer model can I be enlightened has to when they entered my property without my consent, past pad locked field gates two guard dogs and a trigger happy owner with a shotgun.
It never happened,
So I can only assume that the minister is being told a pack of lies.
Time and time again we have asked for a proper real time survey is undertaken for the whole of Cranage Parish not a computer model.it would be quite simple for data to be taken and to link it to the cameras on the motorway installed at present to establish if the M6 was running properly at the time the data is taken.
This area suffers from a westerly wind on most days coming off the Cheshire plain to rise up over the elevated land of Cranage, hence the local garage is called Windy Ridge.
We were promised by Kate Bernie project manager at the beginning that Jacobs would be returning to take further readings at and on various properties this never materialised.
In one case the property directly opposite mine the owner had been given firm assurances that she was to receive a visit to take readings from her house, only for Jacobs not to turn up on the day designated and subsequently say they had decided she was beyond 300 meters from the motorway so didn’t come under the scope for them to act. All of the relevant information on this was sent to you previously. Reference Nicola Burtonwood Barker. This lady had been in constant contact with Ms Kate Bernie due to health matters concerning her immediate family.
I measured the distance from the motorway on her behalf to find that she was well within the 300 meters.
Data was supplied to Highways taken from readings on noise levels including wind speed and direction and weather conditions taken over several weeks on a daily basis that clearly showed that the noise level was well above the design manual requirements and was also breaching WHO guide lines and EU requirements.
Regards the reference to the design manual, this is not being adhered to in that it gives design readings to be achieved or at least attempted to be. Previous statements by highways have said this is only a guide, and what they propose with the smart motorway is not going to make things discernible worse from the noise perspective than what already exists, yet the existing levels of noise are far greater than those specified in the design manual,and was to be dealt with in the 1994 order. This all before we get the extra traffic they predict that can only add to an increase in noise levels.
Why if they are so sure that the computer model is accurate don’t they do a real time survey by an independent company to prove this is correct? And do it for the whole of Cranage not just cherry pick spots that are partly shielded by embankments and bridges.
Can I also just for the record state that whilst I am affected by the constant noise I am not just speaking just for myself but for many other residents of cranage that I have been asked to represent as there spokesman.
Looking on a map you can identify the local roads that are affected.
- Northwich road
- Kings lane
- Sandy lane
- Oak tree lane
- Middlewich road
- Byley lane
- Needham drive estate
- Further areas of Holmes chapel are also affected.
You are aware that numbers of residents are constantly affected by the noise levels.
It’s affecting people’s health and life styles, some have had to make alternative sleeping arrangements things are so bad.
As one Councillor at the last meeting with Highways representatives said, why don’t you break the mould and let’s do something to make things better.
Noise is recognised to be responsible for reducing life expectancy along with pollution.
There are now an overwhelming number of scientific studies that clearly show noise to have a direct coalition to the health of people ,and is the cause or contributing factor to various health matters, the list is long and all are seriously affecting the health of residents.
This stretch of motorway is recognised as the worst for delays due to accidents. At least one or more each day, whilst we get some relief from the noise when the traffic stops all the cars vans and trucks still keep their engines running adding further to the pollution levels.
Given that it’s now admitted that the NOx points in Cranage are included in those that Cheshire east officers sent falsified data on to Defra just adds to the problems, if air quality areas are proven to be required in our parish it will be interesting to see how its resolved ,
For too long now we have had a culture of Highways and Cheshire east officers saying it’s the others problem to solve.
It’s time for government to stop dodging the problem and give clear instructions to Highways and to Cheshire east to solve the problems.
As Winston Churchill was renowned to say and mark the fronts of reports (action this day) and woe betide anyone who didn’t respond.
Further I would also like to draw attention to a design statement made by Highways to the proposed scheme and order from the Secretary of State to widen the M6 made in 1994 ,in the official documents that were sent to me at the time is the clear statement in the proposal documents and plans that they were to build an embankment from Middlewich road going north, with a solid fence on top all to contain noise and to comply with the roads and bridges design manual. All to protect residents of Oak Tree Lane and Cranage.
They refer to the amount of traffic at that time in the documents being 90.000 per day; we now have 140000 per day, and are projected to rise to 180000 per day on completion of the smart motorway.
The scheme proposed was to add an extra lane plus the hard shoulder, so in effect other than the omission of the hard shoulder the same number of lanes now being constructed.
Given that we now have noise absorbing fence technology, its quite feasible to construct a fence of sufficient height to not require an embankment and so still achieve the same outcome from what was proposed in 1994,without the need to compulsory purchase any land and contain it along the line of the existing broken and dilapidated timber fence.
We the residents have always relied on this statement of fact that at any time in the future if the M6 was to be modified steps would be taken to reduce the noise levels to comply with the design manual.
Only now to find that they have no intension to comply, and even directly told me that because they were not going outside the footprint of the existing M6 site they didn’t need to comply,
I find this totally outrageous
I request that you take this matter back to the minister for further consideration.