Residents meeting with Cheshire east.

Representatives from Cranage residents met on Thursday the 11th February with officers from Cheshire East at Westfield’s

Those present

  • Tracy Betttaney public protection and health manager
  • Phil Mason senior enforcement officer environmental health
  • Heather Grimbaldeston director of public health
  • Nick Kelly environmental protection team leader
  • Cllr Glen Williams deputy portfolio holder (communities) representing Cllr Les Gilbert
  • Dr Guy Hayhurst consultant in public health
  • Cllr Andrew Kolker
  • Cranage Parish council chairman Mike Hodge
  • Cranage Parish councillor Lee Dooley
  • Resident Roy Hallman
  • Resident Peter Wild

The meeting was to discuss the concerns of residents about the noise and pollution already in existence and the increases in both projected by the M6 smart motorway scheme. The document below was read out by peter wild and a hard copy was handed to all parties.

Firstly thank you for this opportunity to raise our concerns; I am also here to represent the residents who have been asked to stand down for this meeting to go ahead.

I am not an expert on environmental matters, my background is in construction and civil engineering, but by just applying simple research it uncovers some alarming evidence.

What is a fact is that 29000 deaths are linked to pollution each year in the UK this is from official sources.

The WHO and the European Union have set out guide lines on both the pollution levels and noise levels

On the noise levels they state that levels above 55 decibels daytime and 40 decibels night time are dangerous to our health, and can cause high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and can indeed shorten life expectance. Residents are recording levels in the 60 to 75 range

We think that Cheshire East need to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence related to this and look for solutions to mitigate the problems,

Highways England use computer predictions  not real time evidence on noise , at a recent meeting at cranage when challenged about the noise levels, and it was directly asked of them are you going to do anything about the noise they answered no we are not this was asked again with the same response.

Regarding the pollution they say it’s not their problem but one for Cheshire East to solve.

Given that the government are moving the responsibility to local authorities regards this, it must be born in mind that  fines are likely to be levied by the supreme court and indeed the EU, that will undoubtable be a further burden on rate payer funds.

Our MP has met with several of us, and subsequently the minister for transport and he has referred it back to highways to look again at mitigation.

What do residents want?

That real time noise levels are collected along with wind direction and weather conditions from various points in cranage and Holmes chapel and to note if the motorway is running to determine the actual levels , then to take this forward and look at noise barriers that have been used all over Europe and the Americas, we ourselves put forward that a six meter high gabion wall with sound absorbing blocking material used in its core be constructed, that both reduces the noise levels but also can capture some of the particulates which then get washed out in the rain the length of such a wall needs to be in length  8 times the distance that properties are located from the M6.They are cheap to build and are maintenance free.

Other more sophisticated panels are in use in Austria, and other parts of Europe that captures more pollution with absorbing panels that can be washed and reused.

That a concerted effort is made to tackle the problem of the pollution.

Oak tree lane is listed as a hotspot but that is only because that was a collection point from test equipment, the M6 corridor is listed as a noise and pollution source, yet Highways England put forward only a token gesture. They do not except that the existing levels are above the safe level. Because their computer predictions say this and they are have not been compelled to carry out a full impact assessment, which in its self is totally contra to the hansard document that states a full impact assessment should be carried out that includes existing levels along with predicted increases. Highways England have  indeed put out statements that are factually wrong and designed to mislead

The new smart motorway will only increase the numbers of vehicles and increase the pollution aspect. 140000 now, potential for 180000 per day. That’s over 65million per year

I would draw your attention to the documents produced by Dustscan that detail the distance that particulates can travel. Over a kilometre from source

I would also draw your attention to the document recently produced on behalf of Defra dealing with fine particulate matter a 203 page report  which states.

(The main traffic sources of PM2.5 are exhaust emissions from diesel vehicles (cars, light goods vehicles and heavy goods vehicles), together with tyre wear, brake wear and road surface abrasion from all vehicles. ). The requirement to control atmospheric concentrations of particulate matter derives from its well-recognised and quantified effects upon human health, including premature mortality, hospital admissions, allergic reactions, lung dysfunction and cardiovascular diseases Conclusions and future directions 1. PM2.5 is an important issue in the UK. It is currently recognised that exposure to particulate matter (PM) can give rise to significant health effects and to date there is no evidence of a safe level of exposure.)

Other authorities have insisted on barriers being constructed and these have duly been done for instance in Slough and Bristol more are being constructed on the M40 some with solar arrays fitted to generate power ,there has been a direct involvement there  between the various local and parish councils and highways England to agree a cohesive plan to protect residents.

you will have seen recently various news items by the BBC and ITV dealing with the high levels of pollution from our roads, the general public is waking up to the reality that this now costs the NHS millions and is the cause of more deaths than any other .

The WHO stated recently that this is now a global problem and the UK is one of the top offenders.

Client Earth are taking the government back to the courts this month because the solutions put forward are deemed to be insufficient.

(Existing ECJ case-law, we can definitely say

The following:

  • We have a right to breathe air that meets EU Limit values.
  • Where air does not meet these limits, we have a right to demand that the relevant authorities prepare an air quality plan to ensure they are achieved, if necessary by taking legal action before national courts.
  • That plan must contain measures to achieve the limits in the shortest time possible, not merely a “gradual return” to compliance.
  • The national court must review the content of the plan to ensure that the measures included are sufficient.
  • Practical, financial, technical or other difficulties in achieving limit values are not relevant.)

We would ask that the relevant departments liaise with residents and Highways England to ensure that Highways England take this opportunity to install sufficient protection for residents.

There is a House of Commons document that I would draw your attention to

Environment, food and rural affairs committee

Oral evidence 9 December 2015

This document spells out the position the government is finding itself in very clearly.

Other points

Over 250 properties are directly affected by noise levels in Cranage alone.

I have 27 allotment plots created on my land for the benefit of residents, at the last count there were 82 adults and fifteen children using the allotments all put at risk from noise and pollution, this in turn puts me in a difficult position, in so much that I could be sued for not protecting plot holders from potential harm, they are all between 300 and 450 meters away from the M6.

Cranage is the first elevated land east of the Cheshire plain, hence the local garage is called Windy Ridge, the wind direction is from the west to south west predominately as it rises it increases in speed , this carries the noise and pollution towards the A50

Defra have announced that the air quality grant fund for the whole of the UK is to be cut to just £500,000

The responses we received from Michael Jones were pitifully inept in their content

The residents have over the last 20 plus years raised concerns over the noise levels, and have been reassured that whenever the M6 was to be increased in size that the noise levels would be dealt with, this is now it seems not to be the case.

The national physics lab have done some work on barriers and at 6mt high with enough length to be affective they significantly reduce the noise levels.   The base width of gabions at 6 mts is under 3mts wide so no further land is required  by highways to achieve this , this was confirmed by a major uk manufacture ,I specifically checked this because highways stated a challenge to me at a public meeting that my direct experience of using these both for the river authorities and HMprisons was wrong, and that they would need 10 mts at the base to go 6mts high.

Peter wild

The meeting went on to discuss the points raised

On the noise aspect Cheshire East stated they have no control over what Highways England do about this, and that the noise levels stated by highways are only taken using national guide lines in that the wind speed is low and that the road is not wet , the reason for this is that it distorts the readings to give a high figure, which is the problem we have, given that on most days the wind is from the west or south west and the road surface being wet most days during the winter.

They are going to request that more up-to-date figures are produced by Highways England for further discussion.

With regards to pollution the nox tube at Northwich road was in place but readings would require a six month period to ascertain if the levels were above the safe level further tubes would be installed at other locations to determine the spread of this gas.

With regards to particulates Cheshire East have no equipment to test for this pollution source whilst agreeing that it is a national concern.

What was agreed by Cheshire East was the following

  • We agreed that air pollution (NO2) was being monitored and we can examine results when they are available.
  • Also agreed that in terms of particulates (PM2.5’s) action is needed at a European and national level to filter down to local level and this would take many years (and is not necessarily within the gift of Cheshire East Council or Highways England to influence within Cranage at this time.
  • Cheshire East to review diffusion tube monitoring and position a tube at a slightly further distance than the one located at Woodlands Lodge to examine the drop off with distance (NO2)
  • An invitation has been extended to Cranage Parish Council to attend and discuss Local Air Quality more generally (not specifically relating to the M6 / smart motorway) and hopefully allay some fears / discuss ideas.
  • The Director of Public Health to formally write to Highways England requesting they undertake some real world noise monitoring (revisiting some of the sites covered in the Environmental Assessment Report) to validate those measurements and provide data for the residents.
  • Depending on the outcome of the above (either noise results – or using existing measurements) to hold a further meeting to have a discussion around mitigation options.
  • If possible to ascertain approximate costs of the suggested Gabian Wall system.
  • Cheshire East to enquire whether Cheshire West and Chester have put any additional diffusion tubes out

Conclusions

Although the meeting was reasonably productive concerns centre around the way noise levels are collected and assessed, further investigation after the meeting  of the design manual for roads and bridges has ascertained that levels should in fact be taken in prevailing winds over a 24 hr period, this information has been passed on to Cheshire East.

That the pollution aspect is not being monitored for the most dangerous particulates because Cheshire East has not got the equipment. This needs urgent action.

We wait so see what action comes forth from Cheshire East and the Parish Council.