M3 Noise Meeting
Otterbourne Parish Hall Thursday November 8th 2001
Both Otterbourne and Compton and Shawford Parish Councils have, together with local Councillors, for some time been trying to establish via various Transport Ministers and the Highways Agency when our section of the M3 can be resurfaced with low noise emission tarmac. The best estimate we have been given is in the year 2011.
Otterbourne Parish Council also want to have their 2 metre noise barriers raised to current day heights and standards.
Far more residents of both parishes are nowadays being affected by the continuous background growl of the M3 than was the case when it first opened. Our Parish Council is receiving complaints from residents in the middle of Compton Street, the Shawford Triangle Crossway and Compton Down.
Faced with these complaints, and inadequate and evasive answers from the Highways Agency, it was decided to call a Public Meeting and start a pressure campaign to push for a committed early date for a quiet surface M3, as has recently been agreed for the A34 at Kingsworthy and the Alresford Bypass.
To garner and gauge support, to make “those that matter” aware of this, and to broadcast this via the Press a Public Meeting was called for Thursday 8 November in Otterbourne Parish Hall with the help of Ann Bailey, Charlotte Bailey, Celia Simmons and Peter Walford.
No clear estimate of how many people actually turned out on a bitterly cold evening is possible as the Hall was packed to overflowing before the start time and people had to be turned away for Health and Safety reasons, which was very disappointing. It is thought well over 300 were there.
The top table consisted of Mark Oaten MP Rodney Sabine, Leader of Winchester City Council, John Rylett, Highways Agency, Mike Westcott, Mott McDonald, Robert Heathcock and Abigail Sleat, WCC Environmental Health Peter Walford, Otterbourne Parish Council. Celia Simmons took the Minutes and Nick Campbell-White chaired the meeting.
Apart from Mike Westcott and Celia Simmons, all the above gave short prepared presentations. What was obvious from these was that WCC was not in a position to help other than with advice and noise readings. The Highways Agency was constrained by money and programmes in which we did not figure and that only a political decision would bring any positive results. Both Mark Oaten and Rodney Sabine warned this would be a long haul and would need a high profile, well supported public campaign with a petition presented to the Transport Minister.
Questions and Answers were in two parts. The first 12 questions, submitted to the panel 2 weeks in advance, were inadequately answered with no obvious research or in depth facts with the exception of the WCC answers. As were other questions from the floor. No one could tell us when our sections of the M3 were due for resurfacing, how much the low noise emission surface cost, either by metre or carriageway, how long it lasted, whether additional height or different noise barriers would be a more effective solution to the current and persistent noise, whether more noise barriers would even be considered if it could be shown noise levels were well above predictions, nor were they aware of the current actual noise readings recently taken.
What did emerge was that there were no noise level readings taken on the old Bypass, so no comparisons could now be made, compensation was paid out on a calculated basis, the M3 was conceived and built assuming heavy use on a 5 day basis and light use at weekends and night, that it was well built and the carriageways were not showing any signs of needing repair and that it was considered capable of taking more traffic .
Mark Oaten, obviously concerned at the lack of answers we were getting, said before he had to leave, that next week he would be tabling 2 questions in the House of Commons for the Minister of Transport, one asking what the acceptable noise levels were as applicable to Shepherds Down School (Head Teacher Tony Gazzard had given a very disturbing and concise resume of how in many ways the constant din was affecting the teaching of his Special Needs pupils)
Rodney Sabine showed himself sympathetic to those suffering from continuous noise intrusion and promised as much help as the City Council were able to give with additional noise monitoring etc.
In view of the lack of detailed and factually supported answers to the questions posed, the Chairman of Compton and Shawford Parish Council managed to extract an assurance from both the Highways Agency and Mott McDonald representatives that they would get together and respond in writing to all the questions within one month of receiving them. Charlotte Bailey is busy compiling this list from the audio recording taken at the meeting. This list and the Minutes will be available from her.
The campaign has now stepped up a gear and the next stages are being planned, in what will be a long running and we hope well supported public campaign. The Parish Council is looking for help in this matter.
Would those who were not at the meeting and would like to be kept informed and those who would like to give active support please get in touch with Charlotte Bailey or Celia Simmons. If you are on email please let them know as this speeds up communication.
Chairman, Compton & Shawford Parish Council
[this report appeared in the December 2001 Parish Magazine] [see also the full transcript of the meeting]