Transcript of M3 Noise Public Meeting
8 November 2001, Otterbourne Village Hall
Table of Contents
Chairman’s Introduction: Nick Campbell-White
Thank you, all of you for coming – so many of you. I am afraid we are somewhat overwhelmed with the numbers but I think it probably goes to show, particularly to our guests, just how important this issue of noise intrusion is from the M3 and I think your presence here speaks volumes for all that.
We have got a number of people who hopefully can answer your questions tonight. We have been inundated in Parish Councils, both Otterbourne and Compton & Shawford, with noise questions. We haven’t been able to answer them, nor have our city and district councillors or county councillors effectively, and therefore they have asked the guests that we have here that I will introduce in just a moment, to come and try and answer some of our questions and have the questions and the answers from the horse’s mouth.
We have here tonight: Mark Oaten who will talk to you in a moment; John Rylett from the Highways Agency; Mike Westcott from Mott McDonald; and Abigail Sleat and Robert Heathcock from Winchester City Council; and we have the Leader of Winchester City Council Rodney Sabine; and also we have Peter Walford from Otterbourne Parish Council who was a previous Chairman. Celia Simmons is taking notes of the questions and I have been lumbered with being the Chairman for the evening and I am Chairman of Compton and Shawford Parish Council. Can we go into … the format of the evening will be that our guests will say a few words. We have some questions that have been submitted in writing and we will ask those people here to put the questions to our guests and then we will throw the questioning open to the floor. We have a limited time so it could be that a number of you here – we are going to have call a halt to the questions. We hope they are varied and widespread and we hope equally that we will get the answers that you want.
May I call upon Mark Oaten our MP to say a few words – Mark.
Mark Oaten MP
Nick, thank you very much. I am not surprised about the amount of people that are in the room tonight. The issue of noise from the M3 – the issue of noise generally from roads, is one of the top issues in the postbag that I get through and the particular problems of this area have, I know, been at the top of many of your concerns, so I am not surprised. I am, however, delighted to see so many people here.
My similar experiences from being involved in other campaigns where we have started to try and make a difference and get noise reduction, have suggested that the starting point is this kind of meeting where we can pull together as many people as possible to firstly demonstrate to the authorities, those that can make decisions on this, the strength of feeling that there is. But importantly, and I hope it is one of the outcomes of tonight, that we can put in place a local action plan which everybody here can sign up to, because if we can do that we can then have a series of actions over a period of time, to try and get the right result.
Now, when I was involved in a similar campaign to try and get noise reduction on the A34, we had a similar meeting of residents in Kings Worthy and I have to say from the outset, that that meeting took place probably about 3½ – 4 years ago. They are only now beginning to carry out the work, so I am not going to stand up here and lie to you and say that because of what’s happened tonight, we are going to see an instant result on this. This could be a long haul, it could be hard work and it could require some patience to get the end results, but I know from what we achieved and managed to get done – for Kings Worthy residents and the A34 – that by carefully lobbying and campaigning we were able to make a difference. I understand the problems that you have got, the concerns you have got. If I lived next to the M3, I would be here as well, I would be frustrated. The ability to be able to sit out on a summer’s evening, the ability to be able to leave windows open, the ability to be able to continue to have a high quality of life, is spoilt by the M3. Fortunately, I wasn’t the Member of Parliament when decisions were taken about that cut-through – thanks goodness for that – but it is now my job to try and help tackle the problems that you have, and it seems to me that the quality of life issues and the fact that we now know that technology does exist to be able to put some of those things right, is a compelling argument that comes forward.
I have been raising this issue in the past and wanted to just read an extract from the most recent letter that I have had from the Minister for Transport, John Spellar, who, when I took this issue up wrote back to me and let me know some of the actions that the Government is trying to take. There is some good news here in that the Government has now taken a policy objective which is that they do recognise that noise nuisance from major roads, from roads like the M3, is a priority for them in terms of trying to come up with measures to tackle it. So at least we have a policy objective which we can try and hang a campaign on to. The phrase that was used in the letter was that in 1999, the Government agreed an annual ring fenced budget of £5 million to finance measures on sections of trunk roads and motorway networks which were worst affected by noise: motorways which did not benefit from noise reducing measures when constructed. They listed in Hansard in November of ’99, the roads which would meet that initial criteria and they listed and set out a number of objectives. They then say in my letter that the Winchester section of the M3 Junction 9-10, is included in that list and Junction 9-10 will now proceed to have more detailed analysis done on it – looking at issues, much more analysis about traffic flow. So we have something we can try and build on, but it seems to me critical that we persuade the Government that it is not just about Junctions 9 and 10, it is this whole section which runs through from 9 to 12 to 13 that needs to be tackled and needs to be included as part of that review.
So, what I am suggesting tonight is that I am here, happy to fire the bullets – I need you to give me advice and material about what those bullets are going to be. I am happy to do my part in terms of trying to identify some of those bullets. I will raise and table parliamentary questions if we need more data on noise, we need more data on traffic flows. I am more than happy to go and meet the Minister and I would be very, very pleased indeed, if one of the outcomes of tonight’s meeting, was we organised a fairly focused petition which I would then happily table on the floor of The House, to The Minister.
Those are the things I can do, but my advice at this stage is we need to hear from the others around the table and we need to hear from folk in the room. My advice at this stage is to try and tag on what we already have as commitment from The Minister and if they are prepared to look at a section of the Junction through Winchester, surely our objectives would be to try and extend that review so that we can tag on the other Junctions into it. I believe we have an extremely compelling case to do that in that the residential qualities in this area are affected probably more than some that are in the 9 – 10 section and if we can make our argument clearly and powerfully, then maybe we can get them to include this particular section in that review. That for me seems to be the first priority.
I end with an apology. Whoever organised my schedule today, has had me running all over the place. I need to be back in Westminster by 10.00 pm, unless I am going to be caught by the Police speeding, I need to leave here at about 8.15 pm, so apologies for that, but I give an absolute commitment that I will see this through, work as best that I can. The only promise I won’t give you, is that I will get the same successful outcome I had at the A34, but I will give it a good shot, be patient, be focused and I will help in any way that I can. Thank you.
Thank you very much Mark, we do appreciate that. We will call on Peter Walford now to give a potted history and a short history please, Peter, of what happened so far.
M3 History Peter Walford
This will be a very brief history and I just want to then go onto another subject literally for a couple of moments. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, plans were drawn up to create a new route for the A33 which would by-pass Chandler’s Ford and create a more direct and faster route from the southern end of the Winchester by-pass to Southampton. This route cuts through woods and fields but enabled the ever increasing amount of traffic to reach Southampton Docks and assisted the general expansion of the Southampton area.
The contract for this Chandler’s Ford by-pass was started in 1964 and was completed in 1968. In the early 70’s, it was evident that more ambitious schemes were required to meet the rapid expansion of the use of cars and lorries and work started on the detailed planning of the last link of the M3 from Bar End to Bassett. This would link with the M27 and provide a fast link from the industrial areas of the Midlands to Southampton and Portsmouth.
The scheme had reached the stage where firm proposals could be put before the public by 1985 and in June of that year, the first public inquiry was held in the Eastleigh Town Hall under the control of Dudley R Leaker. This lasted two months, but his report was not issued until June 1986. A second inquiry was held in Winchester in 1987 to study the extremely difficulty subject of the route over or around St Catherine’s Hill. Work started on the section from Bassett to Compton in 1988 and was officially opened in 1991. The second section commenced soon after and was completed in 1994. The route of the new road followed the original route of the Winchester by-pass and Chandler’s Ford by-pass, except for the St Catherine’s Hill section.
It is interesting to note from the Inspector’s Report that our section of the M3 was designed to take 71,000 vehicles per day by the year 2004, but in reality it is up to 110,000 vehicles per day in 2001. The predicted flow on Otterbourne Hill by 2004 was given as 7,900 per day, but from a recent count it was 10,100, again in 2001. We believe that more traffic means more noise and therefore, if the traffic has exceeded the estimate by 25%-50%, then presumably so has the noise.
Noise & Sound Peter Walford
Now, one other quick topic that I want to raise with you whilst I am on my feet, and that is the question of noise and sound. I am not a sound engineer, but I would like if I could, just to give my layman’s version of how you determine the difference between noise and sound. Noise is what we hear in our ears and our brain tells us whether its loud or not so loud or it would give us many other ideas as to exactly what noise is about.
Sound, well sound is something that can be measured. It is measured by an actual instrument and it is recorded and noted in decibels. Now, there is no direct relation between decibels and noise. This is the part that I would like to emphasise. Please, I am sure there are many people in this room who are wondering what an earth I am going to say next on this, but I am a layman so this is how I try to explain it to you.
Now, I distributed – I have put on chairs – some of these leaflets but there is nowhere near enough to go around this number. It says “Understanding Noise” and the chart shows how even minor decibel changes can make a significant difference in the loudness of sound to the human ear – a 20% increase from 50 decibels to 60 decibels actually raises the loudness by 100% from 2000 units to 4000 units. I have just done another quick calculation so you can get the gist of what this is all about. If we were to take a place near the motorway, and the sound reading recorded 70 decibels and by having a quiet surface, we were able to reduce that to say 65 decibels, that would mean a 7% reduction in actual decibel terms, but in loudness terms that would mean a 30% reduction. One more example, the same place at 70 decibels reading – if that were to be reduced to 60 decibels which is a 14% reduction in decibel terms, in loudness terms that would reduce by 47%. So you will understand that when we hear the answers from our experts, please try and bear in mind that if they say it is going to reduce by 3 decibels in loudness terms, i.e. what our ears predict, it is considerably more. If anybody has not got one of these and would like one, please let one of the Councillors know at the end of the meeting and we will try to make sure that you receive one in the fairly near future. Thank you.
Thank you Peter. John Rylett from the Highways Agency has kindly given up his time to come tonight and he is going to say a few words.
Highways Agency: John Rylett
Thank you Mr Chairman. You have already heard about the Government’s Ring-fenced Policy that was announced in 1999 at £5 million to deal with the most serious cases. At that time, an initial sift criteria was set up.
The first step in this criteria is when was the road built? Trunk roads must have been opened before June 1988. Priority for attention was going to be given to locations which remained unaltered since October 1969. That was the first qualifying stage for noise mitigation measures in 1969.
The second criteria to be satisfied was the current noise levels, immediately adjacent to the road, was to be 80dBA. Now to laymen, if you consider a vacuum cleaner at roughly 10 feet away, that’s 70dBA. If you think about standing next to a busy road that’s 75dBA and if you have got a heavy goods vehicle passing you that’s about 90dBA – in relative terms. That gives you some idea of what 80dBA means.
The third criteria to be satisfied was in the case of roads opened or altered after October ’69, the current noise levels must be a least 3dBA greater than predicted for the design year – I will come back to that particular point on design year later on. 3dBA is what the average person can perceive as a difference in sound from one level to another. O.K.
You already have mentioned that we have a list in Hansard which was published in November 1999 and we have a programme for dealing with those particular sites. One bit of background is when a new road is built or is substantially altered, we have to go through a process, statutory process, under the Land Compensation Act 1973 and associated regulations – noise insulation regulations – which means that for any new or altered road, you are entitled to compensation – so that is the philosophy on new or altered roads. Again, I will come back to that for the specific road in question. In the Government’s review which was published in 1998, “A new deal for trunk roads in England”, it set out the aims of tackling road noise in principle. It promised that in the cases of new road construction, a quieter road surface would be used. In addition to that, there would be other measures like noise bunds and acoustic fencing. Furthermore, the Government promised that whenever a road needs resurfacing for operational reasons, then low noise surfacing would be used in areas where noise was a primary concern.
On to the specific area under consideration, M3 Junctions 11-12. The first criterion’s not satisfied because this particular section of road was opened in 1994. At that time, the design which is the current design level – it included mitigation measures like bunds etc., to dampen the noise.
The second point about that section of road was that it was subject to the Part 1 Land Compensation Act and as a result of applying that Act over £5 million’s worth of compensation was paid out to those affected.
The next point is on the design year noise levels. What happens there is that we try to predict what is the level of noise 15 years after opening. In this particular case, the projected flows on which the noise levels are based, currently are 128,000. The design year 15 years after 1994 is 2005. The predicted, at the time of the design, was 156,000 – so we are 28,000 adrift of prediction.
There is at the moment, nothing in the Agency’s programme on maintenance because the road is fairly new, it doesn’t warrant ongoing maintenance at this stage. Whereas, if people compare up the road – we have already heard a mention of Kings Worthy – that certainly did warrant maintenance and under our routine inspecting programme, we had to take action, that will be completed this month. Subsequent action will be taken on M3, between Junctions 4 and 8 that’s Dummer etc. That will only be in Lane 1 – that is because there is heavy rutting in that lane due to heavy good vehicles and again that will use low noise surfacing to dampen the noise but that is only in Lane 1. That really is a brief summary of where we are at, at the moment. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you very much Mr Rylett. Can I call upon Rodney Sabine to say a few words, who is the Leader of Winchester City Council.
Winchester City Council Leader: Rodney Sabine
Thank you Chairman. I come to you with some air of bafflement. I want to tell you about two noises I have had to deal with. When I moved into my house, there was an electricity sub-station next door which gave off a hum and I suspect it was a hum that most of you would gladly exchange for the noise that you have at the moment. I went to the Councillor and said, “can I do anything about this” and they said, “oh yeah, that’s not right”. A man came down and I don’t want to go into the long and involved process that went on, but basically Southern Electric had to spend £50,000 to stop me hearing this noise and there was absolutely no question about it because the Council said that Southern Electric, like anybody else, have got to keep the noise levels to a minimum. If somebody set up a panel beaters next door to you and the noise of the cars being banged around and it was too much, the same thing would apply.
About a year ago, Alresford by-pass (where I live) was re-surfaced by the County Council because it is not a trunk road, it’s a County road with a very noise surface and within days of its surfacing being put in, my phone started to ring with people saying, “good grief, the noise is appalling” and again, I would suggest that the noise level that we were getting, is something you would gladly exchange for the noise you have. We campaigned much as you campaign, but I must say at a much lower level, we never had a meeting like this and the County agreed to re-surface it in the Spring. The whole of the Alresford by-pass is being re-surfaced with a low noise level.
Now my first bafflement is with the Law that says if you are an electric company you mustn’t make a hum that might disturb somebody at night on a quiet night when there are no owl’s hooting, but if it’s a motorway – you can make as much noise as you like, almost as much noise as you like and there is no way of the Council saying – I mean we have statutory powers against some people to say you mustn’t make that noise, but we have no statutory powers to stop the noise on motorways.
My second question I have is why the people of Alresford seem to be more important than the people of Otterbourne. Of course, I mean if I was in Alresford I would be saying, “of course they are more important”, but I actually don’t think they are, I think that we all have the same rights and needs, as I find this whole noise issue very baffling.
I am also very worried by the letter that Mark has just given me – I haven’t had a chance to discuss it with him, but there is a bit of a sting in the tail of this letter which talks about Dibden Bay. Now you are all aware that there is a plan to build a container port at Dibden Bay and the statement in the letter is, “The Highways Agency is satisfied that apart from some minor issues yet to be resolved, the proposed development will have no material effect on the operation of the trunk road network.” Now, I find that incredible because I have sat through a meeting with Railtrack who said, “look don’t think these containers are coming up the railway line, because the railway line running through Winchester is already running at full capacity. We are already having to divert freight trains up to Salisbury because there isn’t room.” So I don’t know how these containers are going to get to London and the north of England, presumably by canal because I can’t see another way of getting them without making a noise.
We are in a difficult situation at the City Council – the only way we can help you physically is to send people like Robert and Abigail down to take noise measurements to provide evidence that you have got a problem. We can’t actually enforce the noise levels on the motorway. What we can do, however, is help you in your campaign. Now Councillor Bailey has already asked me a question in Council about this issue. As far as I am concerned, the best way we can help you is to join with Mark, support him to work with your County Councillors and to campaign to get an improvement in this noise level.
I had increased noise levels tonight because I actually came past you on the motorway – there were three lanes of cars all travelling 50-60 miles an hour, most of the time I come down that motorway there are three lanes of cars and lorries travelling 50-60 miles an hour or you are stopped because somebody stopped too soon and they all pile into each other. I don’t see why you should have to suffer this and I am still baffled to know as to why you have to suffer it and yet in Alresford within 6 months, we can get the thing resolved. I think part of the reason is because of course it was a County Council responsibility, we have County Councillors in our area who want to get re-elected and they made jolly sure it was sorted out and maybe we need to put pressure on Central Government.
I don’t blame the Highways Agency because they have got a limited amount of funds. What we need to be doing is putting pressure on Government to release more money and really to suggest that from Junction 9-10 there is a problem and 10-12 there isn’t, is I find quite baffling. So we are with you, we will work with you, we will support you in any way we can and we really want to get this resolved. Thank you.
Thank you very much Rodney.
We have now got two people who come in force from Winchester City Council. Robert Heathcock and Abigail Sleat who have actually been at the sharp end of things and have been taking noise readings. Robert over to you.
Winchester City Council Environmental Health: Robert Heathcock
Thank you Nick. Well like a lot of people tonight, I am not surprised by the turn out. I know that road traffic noise is a huge issue to an awful lot of people. I think one of the biggest frustrations with road traffic road noise is this feeling that it is imposed upon you and you can do absolutely nothing about. I think there is a big issue around all sorts of noise issues and road traffic noise in particular, that you feel very frustrated that there is nothing you can do about it and I share that frustration because one of the things that the City Council – we have a team of people, many of whom are qualified in acoustics and spend most of their working day going out, dealing with noise issues, serving notices, requiring works like Rodney has described a bit earlier on and being able to enforce improvements. But in relation to traffic noise and transport noise in general, we are completely powerless, we have no legal powers over the people who make the decisions and I share the Highways Agency’s difficulty in this because in essence you are facing a political decision in this.
You have a situation here where you are affected by noise. There have been a whole raft of rules that have been around for a long time, dictating situations where people would qualify for insulation and when works are carried out and those rules have been followed for a long, long time. But I do sense in probably the last 4 or 5 years, there is a bit of a change in the political environment. Whereas, maybe 5 years ago, the rules would have been quoted back at you, I am sorry, that’s what the legislation says, there is no way we are changing from within that, you are just going to have to lump it. That has changed, and I think it is important that your campaign gathers momentum, because if you are going to achieve your ultimate aim which is to get some more works carried out, you will have to change political hearts and minds in terms of doing this. And you are up against quite a difficult position, because, of course, once a decision has been taken in one situation, precedents have been set and that is the issue that you are going to come back ultimately and change.
Some of the difficulties that you face is that some schemes have happened recently, but they have been quite opportunistic. Roads have been due for re-surfacing so works have been carried out. You are faced with the situation, of course, where the road is relatively new and therefore works are going to be quite substantial and really at a time when the road is frankly still within its useful life.
In terms of what we can do for you – I will give you two bits of advice. The first thing is noise, although we talk about it in very simplistic terms, it is a very complicated subject. Our staff go away and train for 12 months doing acoustics, come away with a qualification and really know what they are talking about and indeed other acousticians will. It is very easy to want to go out and start doing practical things yourself and to think you have become an expert in noise but the danger is your credibility then suffers because if you go and take measurements in the wrong way, in the wrong location, in the wrong circumstances, they can be rubbished very quickly and you are actually not doing your campaign any good. So, we are more than glad to offer you advice in terms of the practicalities of measurements where we can all take measurements and give you support like we have before tonight. Just a word of caution – it is really important that you get the technical aspects right.
I think the other thing is, when we start to get into a situation where totally would be in terms of practical things that can be done, our role in many ways is to vet those proposals hopefully to say, yes, these are the right things to be done in the right situation. Because if you get works carried out, you want things that will have the maximum impact and there are various options – road surfaces are one, barriers another, and so forth, so we can actually help in that way. In fact, you know, I went back into some of the old files and would you believe and I suppose this is quite opportune, but way back in ’92, I was involved in getting the noise insulation works carried out at the time. The reason the City did that, knowing that it was a very difficult position, was that we were actually able to influence in quite a lot of situations, additional windows and properties added to those noise insulations works. Because whilst the whole system is supposed to be designed around a science of predicting noise levels, predicting the situation and saying right these windows will qualify, this situation won’t, yet as has been admitted tonight, the traffic levels are going up at such a dramatic rate, the predictions do cause problems and I think that is the difficulty.
I think finally, I would echo Mark’s comment which is you have got to be in it for the long haul – you will not get a quick answer to this, you need to really gather the evidence, gather the facts and make sure they are very accurate facts, because as I say, with acoustics if you get it wrong your case will be seriously weakened. Gather the facts, and above all apply that political pressure because if you are going to succeed, ultimately this will be a political decision, it won’t be a legal decision or something without enforcement powers – but I wish you all the luck. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, Abigail Sleat has taken measurements and she is going to tell you what she has discovered around this area.
Noise Measurements by WCC: Abigail Sleat
O.K., thank you. The protocol for taking noise measurements was agreed with Mike Westcott at Mott McDonald the Consultants to the Highways Agency and also in accordance with the national code called The Calculation of Road Traffic Noise. As you can see, it is a very thick document and the idea is you follow a fairly strict code to ensure that your results are fairly valid and reliable.
What happened on this occasion, we agreed to do five, 15 minute samples from five different properties and two were based on one side of the M3 and three on the other side of the M3 and this was done at a variety of times during the day. We also agreed to do one, 18 hour measurement but scheduled it in – unfortunately the weather conditions were unfavourable because you cannot take noise readings when its raining, when the wind conditions are too fast and so forth. The results that we got ranged between 54dBA and 70dBA and “A” is a weighting that’s used to mimic how the human ear hears sound and we have to be careful to make sure things like the sound level meter was properly calibrated before and after the measurements; that the sound level meter was set up well away from any reflective surfaces; that the road surface was dry and these sort of things. I have brought with me a map and you won’t be able to see it at the back there, I’m afraid, but I will pin it up on the board afterwards just to show you where the properties were and if you have got any questions, please feel free to ask.
Thank you very much Abigail.
We have finished now the questions [Nick meant speeches] from the guests and we are going to throw the meeting open to you that have come in from the public to address them to the variety of people here. Now you will have to bear with me on the basis that I am not a technical person and once a question is asked we are going to have to decide amongst ourselves, who is the best person to answer that. I might well get that one wrong, please bear with me.
There is an attendance sheet that is circulating. Charlotte Bailey will ensure that it moves around, once she has got set up at the moment. Could you please all ensure that you sign this and put your name and addresses on it and then hopefully it will keep you up to speed with what is happening with the campaign. As you heard, it is likely to be a long drawn out one and we will plan from now on what we are going to do.
We have already had some questions submitted to us and I know there are others who have indicated they want to ask questions, so can I call upon first of all those people who I know who want to ask questions and then we will go to taking generally from the floor. Vicki Fletcher had a question. Where’s Vicki – Vicki can you come to the microphone and ask a question.
Previously Submitted Questions
Noise levels on M3 and Alresford Bypass: Vicki Fletcher
Yes, what I wanted to know, please, is what are the noise levels between Junctions 11 and 12 on the M3 and how do they compare with the Alresford by-pass which we have heard is in the process of having its noise production surface affected?
Is this one for you or Mike?
As explained earlier, the Alresford by-pass is a Hampshire County … the road, the responsibility is on Hampshire County Council, I have no idea what the noise levels are on that road. I make one further point about that road again said earlier, it was to be re-surfaced with a quiet surface, that’s not in fact true. It was re-surfaced some time ago, or relatively recently but still some time ago, with what is called a sprayed and chipped surface to make good the worn surface. That had the result of increasing the noise level and as far as I have been able to ascertain that the surface which is to be placed on it will simply take it back to the sort of levels it generated before. It is not a quiet surface as such. I believe the budget for that has not been formally arranged either, but as I don’t work for Hampshire that’s all I’ve been able to find out recently.
Thank you Vicki, the answer to that was we don’t know, we haven’t got an answer and we’ll take it upon ourselves to find from the relevant authority those questions and come back to you. The next one, we know comes from Eric Newman – Eric Newman?
Actual and predicted noise levels: Eric Newman
Hallo, I’m Eric Newman – I live in Pitmore Road. When the original motorway was designed I presume there were predictions of the noise levels that would be obtained along the motorway.
How do the actual noise levels now compare with the predictions that were made originally? Also, as a matter of interest, how do the noise levels compare with before it was a motorway too? Because before it was a motorway, the noise levels seemed to be acceptable but the real thing that I am asking is the comparison between the design point and the actual point now.
Mike again, if that’s possible?
A number of calculations were obviously done at the design stage of the motorway for a number of properties along the route. There is no legal requirement at the moment to make any comparisons between the noise levels which were predicted before construction and what is actually happening now. So we have had no reason to measure those, so we don’t have any recent measurements. That’s the short answer.
Again, we don’t have the full answers – we will have to take steps to try and find those out for you.[Eric Newman attempted a supplementary question]
Sorry, we are going to go on to another person, if you don’t mind. Janice Pratt? – there’s Janice.
Impact on children and schools: Janice Pratt
Hallo, my question to the panel really is what are you going to do about the education of the children in the area, the noise levels that affects them?
There are five schools between Compton and Chandler’s Ford. There’s Compton, Shepherds Down, Otterbourne, Thornden and the newly named Lakeside. There is also a hospital. These noise levels have an impact on all the people there. I happen to work at Shepherds Down School with children who have complex learning difficulties, limited attention skills, limited concentration skills. They also, some children need to rely on hearing aids. If ever you’ve put a hearing aid on, you will know that the noise amplified from these electric lights is horrendous, let alone the noise of the motorway and I have it on good authority that the optimum level for a classroom should be 40 decibels and that’s a mainstream classroom. If you are working with children who are dependent on hearing aids every minute of every day, that noise level should be 30 decibels. Can you inform me as to what you are going to do for our children in this environment?
Thank you Janice. Is Tony Gazzard here from Shepherds Down School because I know we have problems from you as well Tony. Tony, would you like to say a few words?
Shepherds Down School: Tony Gazzard
My name is Tony Gazzard, I’m Head Teacher of Shepherds Down School at Compton. Our school is right adjacent to the motorway. It is a special school for primary aged children with learning difficulties, language difficulties and communication difficulties. The motorway has a very big impact on the school environment. We can’t open windows in the classroom when we are teaching, because the noise levels are then too high to teach. Teaching PE on the school field is very difficult indeed because you are trying to shout above the noise of the motorway at all times, trying to make children hear.
As my colleague has said, many of these children have difficulties with understanding language, with hearing language and with paying attention and this has a very detrimental affect upon their education. The school is going to be enlarged and re-organised to take children with the most profound disabilities and this will really have a big impact on the quality of life and could even impact upon their health and safety.
Thank you Tony, I don’t know if we’re going to find an answer to this but could either of you gentlemen answer this?
Well no – I can comment but I can’t answer.
Yes, O.K. would you mind if …
Yes, I’m not an expert on hearing aids or loss of hearing but certainly people who are hard of hearing tend to have a residual hearing in the low frequencies and this unfortunately is where traffic noise tends to be and also noise barriers tend to let more low frequency over than high frequencies. This is a question that I think you will have to provide a written answer on in due course rather than give an off-the-cuff answer at the moment. Sorry, that’s best I can do at the moment.
I think that’s very obviously we don’t know the answer and I don’t think we would expect our panel to know that sort of answer but again, this is a question that we will address to the relevant people and have an answer back to you, hopefully, Tony. Next questioner is Charlotte Bailey – oh you’ve got the microphone on cue.
Conditions for noise measurement: Charlotte Bailey
I would just like to say that all our panel on the top table were actually sent the gist of these questions, so one of the questions sent to them two weeks ago was what is the effect of noise on hearing aids. So, I am sorry that they haven’t managed to find the information between then and now – but we do look forward to the information when it comes.
Thank you, Chair. My question actually comes from Bob Wilson of Shepherds Lane, Compton Down, who can’t be here today and before I ask it I just want to point out the map on the wall there – the ones on the green paper are the official noise readings from Winchester City Council. The map on the wall which is colour coded, is actually from the readings which Ann Bailey and myself have done and I may say that where we did the same properties that Winchester City Council did, we either got the same level dBA or we got a lower level, so we did pick very carefully our times when we did it, and I would say that, that map relates very much to this question from Bob because the days that we did the readings, where there was no wind, it was sunny and warm and we were saying how quiet it was, is really the lowest level of noise that we experience as residents round here and we all know that when the wind’s in a particular direction, or when it’s slightly damp, or the cloud, it’s very cloudy, that the noise levels go up.
So, Bob Wilson’s question is, why do noise measurements need to be taken on a still day when this does not reflect the majority of actual noise levels which people endure?
I think this again is another one for the Mott McDonalds. Sorry Mike.
As I am sure you will appreciate noise, and you have experienced, noise fluctuates widely. It fluctuates on an hourly basis, on a daily, a weekly, a seasonal basis. It also fluctuates with wind, particularly with wind speed and direction. If you ever go out on any one day and measure noise, you would get an answer which would perhaps just be a snatch out of what happens through the whole of the year. When we do noise assessments, we are generally basing it on an annual average basis so we take on board all the sort of fluctuations that you get from variations in traffic, wind and weather and road surface wetness and so on. So the idea really is, to get a true picture of the noise then you need to take a large number of measurements over a long period of time in a large number of positions and logistically that’s not on. It’s better to take a measurement under still conditions and then you say well it could [audience reaction] well you may laugh but I mean somebody has got to go and make these measurements and it can’t be done[shout]
Kindly let the gentleman speak, please, sorry.
I am trying to answer the question the best that I can. We cannot go out on every different condition of traffic and weather conditions and pick the worst case, it’s not possible to do that – within a reasonable period of time.[shout.]
Can you let him answer please.
Zero wind is not necessarily worst or the best conditions from your point of view. It depends which side of the road you live. People on the right, on the east side of the road would want the weak measurements done when the wind’s blowing towards that direction. People on the other side will say – what about us? So, we generally try to pick a still day. The other factor is that if it is too windy then with the turbulence of the air blowing past the microphone can give you false results. Other things happen like the wind blowing through the leaves and trees, which again gives spurious values.
Thank you very much Mike, and before I go on to another question, Mark Oaten has got to leave us as you heard, he would like to say just a very few words before he disappears.
Mark Oaten’s action points on leaving
Nick, thank you very much.
On Monday, I will table a parliamentary question which asks – “What are the legal levels of noise in firstly, schools and secondly schools with children with special needs – so we can have on the record from a Minister, exactly what the criteria are for that. I want it from a Minister like next week, so I have got it there in writing, that will help with our case, I think.
The second thing I will find out having been involved in the Alresford by-pass situation is what the noise levels were in relation to that.
The third thing I think to take up, is to see whether there is any precedent at all that because of cost savings, because of – if you’re doing the work anyway there must be a compelling argument to say that if you’re going to do some work at Junctions 9 and 10, the cost advantages of tagging on an additional junction must be compelling. We are not asking for a completely new area to be done here, it is the junction which is next to it that’s being done. There must be some precedent that we can try and find from the House of Commons’ Library on that.
The fourth thing I will take up is to look at this legal requirement that was mentioned before about the need to do comparisons between the design point expectation of noise levels and the reality and to see if we can get something on that.
And the fifth thing I think we ought to look into are issues in relation to is there anything in EU legislation which could help us here and again, I will be in contact with our MEPs for the area to see if anything can be done there.
I’ll take those issues up on Monday – I will feed those back in when I have a list of names, but I emphasise again, the force of political pressure will require a petition, letter writing, it will require some of you maybe to come and meet with me and the Minister. I will do that but in the weeks ahead let’s get this information through. Apologies once again for the leaving, I will stick with you and we’ll see if we can try and see this through. Thank you.
18 Nick Campbell-White
I know that we are very grateful that Mark has come and thank him for agreeing to do something so quickly on our behalf. We’ll go onto the questions now.
Alan Graham, where are you Alan?
Noise and health: Alan Graham
Good Evening. My question is this – we know that noise affects health and well-being. Who actually sets the level at which motorway noise is considered to be acceptable? And if a noisy neighbour made the continuous noise as loud as the M3 makes, would this be a case for prosecution?
John is that one for you? John Rylett? – or is that for Robert? O.K
It’s a good question. The base position, you have to make comparisons between what is called environmental noise in terms of the practical levels that people cause, and that varies dramatically depending on your receptiveness to noise. The one thing about road traffic noise that is fairly consistent is people tend to react to it the same way. With environmental noise people vary hugely. Some people could say I’m not bothered by that and other people can say that’s driving them absolutely crackers. I mean, for example with just music for the sake of argument, some people might enjoy it, other people say it is actually causing them a problem.
In terms of the actual legally accepted levels, most of the legislation in relation to road traffic noise, hinges around insulation, qualification for insulation, and I have say it is a fairly old piece of legislation – it has been around for quite some time – I mean the regulations were originally around in the 1970’s that set the qualification level at which you got effectively double glazing and ventilators in your property and its more around compensation for the loss of amenity. In terms of general work, there is I think, general evidence to say that there certainly wouldn’t be – you’re not in the territory of hearing loss as you would be say in a factory or something like that. What is more I think evident these days, is the annoyance and that is a much, much harder thing to measure.
I said that with environmental noise you tend to have various bits of guidelines or case law that dictate what different types of noise cause annoyance. There is a thing called British Standard 4142, which basically says that you can measure the – what’s called the ambient noise level, without the source of the noise and then you measure the noise with the – sorry, the level of noise with the source of noise activating – you compare the two and depending on what the difference is, you can fairly accurately predict whether it would cause annoyance and that is based on lots of research. So, it’s a difficult question to answer specifically.
There is no … to summarise, there is no absolute limit saying above this it’ll cause damage, although there is lots of evidence to say that generally road traffic noise will not get to a level where it is going to cause hearing damage, but it will cause annoyance. But having said that, the legal position at the moment is all around compensation and goes back to my point that really what you’re looking at is a political campaign to say that this is causing us annoyance, we think you should do something to remove that annoyance. I hope that helps, but it is a bit general. O.K? Thank you.
Thank you Robert. Next questioner is Ann Bailey. Ann do you want the microphone coming up from Charlotte.
Traffic flow figures and M3 capacity: Ann Bailey
Yes, thank you Chairman. I want to talk about the actual traffic flow figures that I managed to get and I think there is a sort of discrepancy – the first half of this road was actually open, as Peter said, in 1991, so we are looking at 10 years of surface use of that section of the road. Now, in the mornings from about 7 o’clock to 8 or 9, the traffic now from the junction with the M27 right through to Winchester is almost stationary, and therefore in my estimation it is really very congested and full in other words. When the road opened the first figure we have and there is a chart on the wall there for you to look at, was 77,000 vehicles per day – that’s the daily average flow and in 10 year since – well it’s less than 10 years – we have now gone up to 110,000 vehicles a day.
Now, Mr Rylett, you mentioned we had to reached that magic figure of 128,000, well at the same rate of increase even if we have to reach that, it’s not going to be very long before we will be there, and my question is, at what point will you sort of flag up that there is a big problem – if you can get more cars and lorries on to the road, it won’t be in the morning, because it’s already full then – it would have to be off-peak, mid afternoon, late morning or evening time and then the road is going to be going at probably snail’s pace throughout the day because if that’s what it does now early in the morning.
So there is that discrepancy of when do we say the road was opened, half was opened in ’94, half was opened in ’91 and can we rely on you saying to your Minister, this isn’t good enough – this road is absolutely full – it’s chock-a-block or do we have to campaign to make people listen?
I think there are two points there that I need to come back on. When I was talking about high growth forecasts, I was talking about the design year and the design year, if you recall, is 2009 – so these are the projected flows for 2009 ie 15 years after opening of the road and the projected forecasts are 128,000 in 2009 as opposed to what we were forecasting in the original forecast of 156,000. So that was the first point.
Second point, I will certainly look into the 1991 date, but it still would not trigger under our current sift criteria a further study because the initial sift is 1988 unfortunately, and hence that does not allow us the opportunity to press forward with further work.
156,000. Is it full with that many cars? It seems full now.
Yes, I think that was another point you raised, was the capacity of the road, but by the very nature of it, there are two conditions where you did get very traffic noise – one is when it’s empty and the other one is when it is full. By definition if traffic is stationary it doesn’t make much noise, the worst case scenario is fairly steady flow, uphill, heavy goods vehicles who are really straining to get up the hill and it’s probably in the 30/40/50 miles an hour mark that you’re going to have the real problem, so when it reaches capacity, I think you can say – thank goodness for that – so long as you don’t want to use the road, that is!
Thank you very much, but I’m going to go through and keep on that you can come back on that later. I’m going to go through the questions as we have them.
The next one is from Martin Bell.
Noise levels at Kings Worthy, & disturbed sleep: Martin Bell
Good evening. I was pleased to hear that Kings Worthy is going to get a quieter road surface to alleviate their noise pollution. Can you tell me what level of noise readings were recorded there? Secondly, last month Colette, my 5½ year old daughter asked me – Daddy, why don’t they turn off the motorway at night so I can sleep properly? How would you have answered? – I said I’d do my best.
I think that’s one for you, Mike
As we have learned the road was to be re-surfaced as a matter of course as the old surface was worn out. We had no specific reason to measure noise – we had no particular request to measure noise at Kings Worthy. So we haven’t done any measurements there. I can’t answer …
I think the fundamental point here is when a road is worn out there is no value in taking noise measurements, you have got to get there for safety reasons for one thing, to sort it out – the other is obviously making best value of the money that the taxpayers have put into that road and make sure it doesn’t deteriorate beyond a reasonable level because it will cost a a heck of a lot more money to get it back to what is an acceptable level of ride along that carriage. So I think that is the important point. When we go through the process of determining our priorities on road maintenance, level of noise is not one of the criteria in advance for sorting that particular point out, it’s the condition of the road surface and what’s underneath that road surface that determines whether we put that into the priority list or not.
And the follow-up question, how do we turn that noise off at night? A very real problem to all our residents.
Sorry, I thought the gentleman said ‘lighting’ – how do you turn the lighting off at night?
No, noise off![Audience reaction]
Alright – I don’t think you can answer that one.
I would like perhaps to make a comment, just very quickly. I’m trying to offer this as some sort of pragmatic sort of interim solution but I think because you know you’re in for quite a long haul in terms of this campaign. If people have got practical issues around and I’m talking here about difficulty getting to sleep, that type of stuff, and I do empathise with children, whatever, particularly if they wake up in the middle of the night or what have you, if anybody just wants some general advice on practical things you can do and sometimes it doesn’t have to be high cost things, I mean in terms of insulation. Just putting in double glazing isn’t always necessarily the right answer, there are some practical things that can be done as an interim solution.
If anybody gets to the point where they are literally tearing their hair out and would like advice on the sort of things that would make a difference, then by all means contact us, rather than just sitting there getting desperately frustrated – so feel free to give us a ring.
Thank you, Robert. Rodney Sabine has to go. Just before he does so, he would like to say a few words.
Rodney Sabine’s remarks on leaving
It shows you I’m the slightly less important politician than Mark because he had to go 15 minutes ago. I have got to go now because I have got a constituent with a problem that needs my help tonight.
I want to make a couple of points. One is straight away on Kings Worthy – I am not sure that we haven’t taken some readings at Kings Worthy. One of the reasons that Kings Worthy happened was because the local Councillor started a fight for it. I want to make two points about Kings Worthy. One was the local Councillor started the campaign – the other point is that what the Highways Agency are saying and again, I am not criticising them because they’re working within their framework, is actually what’s important them is the condition of the road. Now what’s important to me is the condition of the people who live beside the road and I think we have got to start looking and making the politicians at Westminster understand that actually the people beside the road are as important as the condition of the road itself and that the safety of the people who use the road – that is important. I don’t think any of us pretend that we can close the motorway forever and do away with it, we live in a very busy part of the country, there is a growing economy, traffic is going to increase, it’s not going to decrease, certainly in the short term. What we have to do here and what you have to do is to work to change politicians’ minds about this piece of road – that this piece of road presents a problem for you and what’s important I think, is it starts to present a problem for them.
So if you can give politicians a problem, believe me I speak as a politician, they are more likely to do something about it, than if you don’t give them a problem. And you can do that within the law, there are lots of things you can do with your petitions – I’ll give you an example of Hursley for a very good campaign for 30 limit, where they put all their dustbins out with 30 on it – very impressive – start thinking about that sort of thing, how you can keep reminding people that you have got a problem.
And the other thing is and I’m amazed nobody hasn’t mentioned the Human Rights Act yet. I get the Human Rights Act quoted at me by everybody who has dealings with the Council – I think you need to talk to some lawyers about how you can use the Human Rights Act to help you. We will do all we can. Certainly, what I’m prepared to do and I have already spoken to Robert about getting readings from inside places like the classrooms at Compton Down, classrooms at the other schools and other measurements.
I think Mark’s right, we need a lot more information and while we are collecting the information, I think what you should be doing is playing your campaign of how, over the next two or three years, you are going to resolve this problem, so that your children can have a good night’s sleep and so you can use your gardens in the way that you thought you were going to be able to use them when you bought the house in the first place. I am sorry I have to go but I wish your campaign well and I expect to be hearing from you shortly. Thank you.
Thank you Rodney. I might just pick up on one thing that Rodney Sabine said – he mentioned that it is people beside the motorway. No, it’s not only the people that are beside the motorway are affected, it is people well away from the motorway that are now being affected and that is why we have got so many people here and I hope that the Highways Agency will take that on board, the noise levels are reaching further out than, I think, anybody ever thought they would do and that is why there is such a campaign. It is not just those people beside the road any longer. And hopefully it is not going to be 2 or 3 years before something is done – we are getting fed up with things and we are hoping things will be done much quicker than that – please take that on board. Terry Long has volunteered a question on behalf of the Compton Down Society.
UK lags behind France and Germany in quiet surfaces: Terry Long
First of all the idea of putting dustbins along motorways at 30 miles an hour seems a pretty good one to me.[lots of laughter]
O.K. the Compton Down Society represents the views of 95% of the residents of Compton Down, that is over 200 people, with particular concerns about housing development and environmental issues of course the biggest one is the ever increasing noise of the motorway.
My question is addressed to John Rylett – how can you explain why in journeying in France quiet road surfacing is used extensively to counter noise pollution yet here where the pollution level from the M3 is appalling it isn’t used at all. Is the Agency saying that compared with France and Germany we are a third world country or are they just passing the buck and blaming the Government rather than pressing themselves for something to be done?
I have got to be honest, I am stumped because I haven’t got that question in front of me to research. All I can say is you have given us the notification now and we will definitely come back on it as I cannot answer that now. I haven’t got anything like Germany etc on the list of questions that were posed. I will try to be as helpful as possible and will get back as soon as possible.
But surely the Agency knows that it is true, they knew at the time the motorway was put down the first time that the quiet road surfacing was used extensively in France and Germany, for the obvious reasons.
The Agency may well know that but unfortunately I am only one part of the Agency and I can’t honestly answer that question off the cuff and I don’t want to give you answers that don’t have substance because it might mislead you and I wouldn’t want to do that. I will come back with the answer on that question.
Sorry, a quick addition to that, the quiet surfaces he referred to weren’t generally around at the time this particular section was built 10 years ago, I don’t believe
They were. People pressed for them at the time and they were ignored
Thank you very much for that, and yes, it is fair to say that John didn’t know about that question. We have now got to the stage where we are off those questions that really prompted this meeting from those people that are giving us, if you like, a little bit of gyp with questions that we couldn’t answer; so from now on we are going on to the questions that are coming if you like from the floor and from other people that we know wish to raise them. Could we please ensure that from now on that you both introduce yourself and give your address of where you live. Obviously we knew about where the other people came from and they were residents of the two parishes. We would like to know who the questioner is going to be now and where you actually live if you wouldn’t mind and we do have two more who have indicated they wish to raise a question. Eddie Hall is one of them.
That was a letter.
Peter Mason has a question.
Noise nuisance more widespread; Barriers – Peter Mason
Thank you Chairman, you wish me to say where I live. I actually live in Colden Common and I happen to be the Councillor for Otterbourne and Hursley on the Winchester City Council. I agree with you what you have just said earlier on the basis that I would say that it is two and a half miles as the crow flies from the motorway and before I came here this evening I stood by the side of the car and listened and I could hear the noise from that distance away so that is a point well made and that is why there are so many people here this evening, it is not just the people who live next door, it’s from a wider area.
We have had a number of letters and phone calls with apologies, which is just as well because needless to say there is not enough room – we should have hired the Guildhall really – and some of the points that have been made of course have been so called replied to, but one resident asked why other roads with stretches of quiet surfaces seem to have been done e.g. the A30, M40, M42, A1 with very few inhabitants nearby and they seem to think that this should be a factor to be taken into account when deciding to use budget on noise reduction measures which I think is a very fair one.
I would like to throw in the one which I think was quite amusing, I don’t think the lady is here, if she is I hope she doesn’t mind. It’s Veronica Bliss and its not just in the houses we are concerned about here, it says here “when playing tennis on Compton Court sometimes it is impossible to hear what the other players are saying, even when you are standing on the same side of the net.”
But on a more serious point there was a letter from John Gilling which nothing has been mentioned about this tonight and this can be turned into a question if I have gone on too long as I always do – yes we do know about the re-surfacing but his point here is the installation of properly engineered noise barriers in place of the very flimsy 3 metre high wooden fence would greatly help to reduce the noise levels. Thank you.
Can we take that one, John, about the noise barriers?
Certainly noise barriers will help reduce noise – there are two kinds, one is reflective, one is absorbative and we have used both techniques in different locations in the particular area that we are looking at down here on the M3, so that certainly is the situation.
You mentioned earlier on about other locations where a quieter surface is used and certainly, although I can’t verify those particular locations which are outside this patch have got those surfaces, it would be in keeping with what the Government have said that where major maintenance is due then it will be low noise surfacing that is used as a matter of course now for obvious reasons, so from that particular point they could well satisfy the major maintenance qualification and low noise surfacing would be a matter of course now.
So at least we might get low noise surfacing but it is a question of when, is that right?
That is true. That’s when value for money maintenance programme comes into force.
Possibly we have one little step forward: you almost admitted that we are due for low noise surfacing at some stage.
Now it’s a question of when?
Thank you very much. We are now going to take questions from the floor which is going to prove probably a bit of a problem of getting to the microphone.
The gentleman at the back, name and address first please.
Questions from the floor
Noise now 24 hours, 7 days: Michael Morrison
34 Coles Mead. I want to make a statement more than anything, that since the motorway was opened the world has changed quite drastically. When it was opened we were basing it on a 5 day week, maybe eight, ten hour day. It is now 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It is non stop. If you were to travel down the motorway three or four years ago at say 1 o’clock in the morning you had it to yourself, if you do that same journey today the road is packed. That is all I wanted to say.
Thank you very much for that comment and I think this is one of the things that we wish both Mott McDonald and the Highways Agency to take back with them. Very aptly put. Now we had a motorway which when it started was really noisy in the daytime we now have a motorway which is noisy throughout the 24 hour period, there is no respite and this what we are getting all the problems from from our parishioners and why we are saying we are going to have to have a quiet surface.
No measurements before the M3 opened: Jo Lockett
My name is Jo Lockett, I live in Shepherds Lane right next to the motorway. I wanted to pick up on the question the gentleman next to me asked at the beginning of the meeting which was “what were the sound readings before the motorway went through”. I personally asked representatives from Mott McDonald and the Highways Agency to visit my home and measure the noise before the motorway went through because as you say the traffic used to be stationary up to the Hockley lights and it was actually quite quiet. I was told that the computer told them how noisy it was and they didn’t need to visit my property. Presumably the computer is still telling them that it is actually not that bad. At the time I kept saying to them come and stand in my garden and listen. “No, no madam we don’t need to, its not going to be appreciably noisier when we have built this road” Did you actually take readings before the motorway went through and if so what were they?
We didn’t do a comprehensive set of measurements until the motorway was opened. The assessment of the impact of the noise is done by calculation.[Audience amazement]
If every person living in Chandlers Ford and Eastleigh and Winchester asked us to go and measure noise at their house we could never do it
I appreciate that but how can you say you can calculate the noise when you don’t understand what the conditions were, that probably 75% of the time traffic didn’t move it was backed up to the Hockley traffic lights. You are saying it is quieter when the traffic is not moving, it didn’t used to move on the A33 which is why we needed the motorway but it is noisier.
Can I cut in and stop you a moment. Were any readings taken of noise levels before the motorway was taken at any stretches of these motorways?
I wouldn’t have thought so.
Not on a comprehensive basis. The assessment of the impact of the road and the entitlement to insulation was done on the basis of a calculation from annual average traffic forecasts. That’s the way we are required to do it under the Noise Regulations and the Land Compensation Act
I understand that, for compensation reasons; but were any actual noise readings taken at all anywhere along the line?
I thought I just answered that. There were possibly some spot measurements done but not in the form that would answer the question the lady asked. They were done for different reasons.
Another questioner? The gentleman right at the very back there.
Cost of quiet surface: Richard Croker
I live in Southdown Road. I would like to know please from the Highways Agency what their estimate of the costs would be to put a quiet surface on the stretch of the motorway between Junctions 10 and 12 and how that compares with the cost of building the thing in the first place and I will leave out the effect of inflation since then to make it easier
Thank you. Mr Rylett?
That would be a difficult one to answer off the cuff. Trying to think …
Just bear with them a moment and we might get an answer otherwise we are going to go back and have yet another one sent in writing to us.
Probably, and this is off the cuff, and we will have to look at it in more detail if you really want an accurate answer but we are talking about probably £200 a metre if you include all in traffic management etc. to provide that on a lane basis
That is per lane, is it?[then a lot of talk amongst themselves, not transcribable]
I think rather than pin Mr Rylett to it, he is going to find out and let us know in round figure terms; not down to the nearest £100,000, just to the nearest million I suspect. Next.
Types of low-noise surface: Veronica Bliss
… off Bramble Way. I was the one who had the amusing part of my letter read out, I feel, but the most important bit was at the beginning of the letter, and the letter I wrote was many months ago and it was about the surface of the motorway and the various types, and this hasn’t actually been mentioned.
We have only just at the end of this meeting, or towards the end, had any mention about the type of surface that you are talking about. You just mentioned a low cost surface. I have spoken to people who were involved with the Bentley Bypass and the surface noise there which I believe is now – I may be wrong on this – one of the quietest pieces of road and I have driven on it and I quite believe it is extremely quiet.
Are we at this meeting talking about having the quietest surface that is possible or are we going to be told that’s too expensive and savings will have to be made and it won’t be as quiet as perhaps we could have. So could I just draw your attention to this at the meeting … I don’t know an awful lot about surfaces, I have just made some enquiries but I am aware that there are various different types of low surface noise.
Basically the answer to that one is there is one type of low noise surface which will take the hammering, if you like, of heavy goods vehicles and so on. If you start talking about residential areas where there is low speeds and so on then you can get away with a different texture and different kind of surface but to all intents and purposes we have got a fairly uniform type of demand i.e. vehicle profile on these motorways and all purpose trunk roads so there is just one type of low noise surface. I don’t know the Bentley Bypass in detail but I would expect they are using the same kind of product as we will be getting because cost effectiveness and business being what it is they will only produce one particular line.
Thank you, John, that means we are going to have the lowest, and quietest surface when the time comes. Robert Heathcock would like to add something to this
Recommendation to consider barriers: Robert Heathcock
I just wanted to add again a sort of pragmatic point. People understand that we latch on to the issue of low noise road surfaces which is really really important. In terms of your campaign and things that you are looking for you might also think about the costs versus the benefit of changing the barriers in some situations because what happens when a road is designed and is built the barriers are actually put in at certain heights depending on dictating the number of properties that will qualify for insulation and understandably once you reach a certain point people may say well a 2 metre high barrier here is fine because we have got no properties that will actually qualify for insulation.
But having said that, the height of the barrier makes a huge difference to the amount of attenuation that you get and in bearing in mind the cost of resurfacing in some situations as an interim measure you might want to campaign for getting barriers changed. That does have a cost implication as well but don’t lose sight of the fact that it does have quite a significant impact. I mean just from a practical point of view if you stand at your garden fence and its typically, I don’t know, 2 metres high you can hold a conversation over it and be able to do that. If you increase the height by a metre it will reduce the noise quite significantly so don’t forget that and I think this is where our roles in trying to give you advice and point you in the right direction is quite important, so just bear that in mind. I thought I would mention it now.
Thank you very much Robert. I have got a question from a gentleman on my right over here.
Highways Agency & local authority responsibilities: Jack Dowton
Cranborne Drive, just a couple of hundred yards down the road. Can I just pick up on that last point of yours. Is everything that can be done the responsibility of the Highways Agency or can some be done by the local Council as an interim measure?
And then following on from that, we have heard about noise reduction in general, but how much can we really expect given a quieter surface? And in terms of noise barriers, how would we measure that in terms of decibel reduction or indeed a reduction in noise that we can perceive through our ears?
Thank you very much. Mike will answer that one … Robert, the first part of the question:
I can perhaps answer the first point because you asked if the Local Authority could do something. The simple answer is: No, we have got no powers to go into Highways Agency land and it just wouldn’t be practical for us to do that. Our role is to help and support you to try to get the practical measures done because at the end of the day the land is clearly Highways Agency land, and our role is to support you in what you are doing.
In terms of the reductions, they differ depending, but a barrier is pretty effective, I mean typically 8 to 10 db reductions in some situations depending on the lie of the land, and so that is very very effective. Low noise road surfaces typically, and I think Mike might correct me, I think you are looking at about a 3db reduction, so barriers are very effective that is why they are used you know quite importantly so I think you have got to balance out the various different factors, but Mike might want to add a bit more himself.
Firstly on the question of the so called low noise road surfaces, the ones we are taking about are called a thin wearing course which is a thin layer with a thicker type of texture on the surface and the consensus is that will reduce the noise from a particular road all things being equal on traffic and speeds by about 3 decibels. You do see other claims made by various manufacturers but most of the measurements they have done are not very scientific, it depends very much on the quality of the existing road surface. If it is in a bad state of wear and generating more noise than it should be anyway so that probably answers the first question.
On the question of barriers as Robert said the reduction depends very much on where you live relative to the barrier, how far away and how high the barrier is and how long it is. Bear in mind that the longest section of the road, much of it is already protected by barriers, so raising the barriers may not give a very great reduction compared to increasing the barrier …[interruption]
But how high do you want to go – 10 metres?[further interruptions, some indecipherable questions]
We don’t want to have this interchange. I am sorry I am not going to take those questions from the floor.
There are many barriers along the road already, so all you can do is raise them, but there comes a point where people will object to the visual intrusion of the barriers. There is always a conflict between noise reduction performance and visual intrusion. People don’t like to see barriers at the end of their gardens and drivers don’t like to see barriers.
Thank you very much, Mike. Questions again. Do you have a question? I don’t want any interruptions from the floor please. It’s not fair to the speakers, if you want to put a question I will take it now.
Compensation deadline is upon us: Ann Bailey
Chairman, could I just make an announcement about the compensation, because if there is anybody who lived in their property, and correct me, Mr Rylett, if you think it is wrong, in 1993 and hasn’t made a claim and think they should have done, there is, for the second section the deadline is the 15th December, so there is still a little window of opportunity if anybody thought they should have made a claim and didn’t and I have got the name of a surveyor who would give advice.
Can we go on to the noise questions, please Ann. This is what we are here for.
Inadequacy of current barriers: John McGowan
John McGowan, Waterworks Road …[interruption concerning the balance of questions between Otterbourne & Compton]
I am running the meeting if you don’t mind and we will go on to the question from Mr McGowan. Can we have the question from this gentleman. Waterworks Road is in Otterbourne, is it not?
Waterworks Road, Otterbourne. The gentleman over there was looking at me and he asked me a question, so I was trying to respond to his question, so I apologise, but Robert Heathcock here has just said that raising the barrier sometimes by a metre can make a significant difference to the noise levels. The gentleman over there’s reply: “we have got barriers”; the problem with the barriers is they are the wrong type of barriers and they are too small in height
What height are your barriers?
Only 2 metres?
Yes, 2 metres. If you are driving on the continent where there are built up areas you will find these things are about 4 metres and they absorb the sound.
Right, can we have a reply from Robert Heathcock on that.
I think to be fair to Mike, in terms of the practicalities, the point I was trying to make was when you are evaluating the potential noise reduction measures in particular locations you need to look at all the options not just low noise road surfaces.
Mike is absolutely right in some situations the barrier is already at a reasonable height and it may make no difference at all, but it is possible I suggest in part of your deliberations that at least that question is asked and looked at. If you have got a 2 metre high barrier could it be increased to 3 metres, would it make much difference, I don’t know, but you need to ask the question.
But Mike is also right, there is a public acceptance issue but again to some extent that is for you to think about and for you to come to a view. It would be very difficult to get a balanced view across everybody, in some countries they just literally put huge great barriers down railway lines and everything and just say that will suit everybody. It doesn’t suit everybody some people don’t want it so you need to think about that.
Can I bring this up to John Rylett, because this is a problem in Otterbourne about a 2 metre only barrier. Have you got a comment on that John?
Yes, I would like to follow on from that. Our experience, and I am talking about recent experience, where we put in higher barriers in one location, certainly not down here but in Buckinghamshire, the adverse effect, the impact on the residents was very negative. What happened was, they found the trees and shrubs on the side of the carriageway disappearing because we had to make room to get the barriers in, and we had a negative effect at the end of it all. By actually producing these higher barriers, we got a lot of complaints that the landscaping unfortunately had disappeared overnight, and there is no easy way of actually solving that. And to echo Robert’s point, you have got to think about the whole picture and pros and cons to each of these approaches. Barriers, yes, would produce a significant downgrading of noise levels if they are high enough but also trees and shrubs have their impact as well, not just visually – they do soak up noise.
Thank you John. Other questions? The gentleman right at the very back.
Speed, noise and speed limits: Ben Scott-Geddes
From Shepherds Lane, Compton. To question regarding the conversation earlier on about speed and volume of traffic – what are the litigation considerations regarding slowing the traffic down at certain times of the day? Does the noise rise exponentially with the speed?
Thank you very much. Can we hear from Mike on the noise.
Clearly as the speed increases, the noise increases, that is fairly obvious. Applying a speed limit which has no benefit for the drivers we understand would be very very difficult to impose and to police, if the drivers see no benefit to their own safety then the indications are that the speed limit wouldn’t be stuck to.
The answer to that is “No”. Can I have a question from the gentleman on the right mid way back.
Absence of barriers at Compton Street: Malcolm Noyce
My name is Noyce. I live in Compton Street. On the question of noise barriers first of all. Compton Street is in a valley and it runs perpendicular from the motorway. The motorway at that point is in a dip and at that point there is no acoustic barrier adjacent to the motorway. My house … at the eaves level I can see the tops of lorries on the M3. A simple 2 metre acoustic barrier along the motorway running perpendicular to the Compton Street Village would do wonders for quite a number of houses and would reduce the noise quite substantially so I would ask you to look in detail at that particular alignment because I queried that with the design issue and I was informed that it would be perfectly alright. In fact it is not alright and the ground levels were wrong at the time of the design when you look at the land levels. So please do look at the actual rise of the land along Compton Street away from the motorway and you will find that there is no intermediate barrier at all. Therefore an acoustic barrier would help a lot for a number of houses in Compton Street.
The second point, if I could, is in relation to the surfacing. I am afraid I was out on the road for most of the meeting, I didn’t get all of the issues but the Highways Agency have a commitment under the 10 year Plan for transport from the Government to resurface 60% of the motorways with low noise road surfaces but what I don’t know – you may have answered the question – is when can we expect this road to be resurfaced under the maintenance arrangement where would gain from the noise benefit.
Thank you very much
I haven’t quite finished. There is another point which is to do with the road surface itself and we do desperately need to see that come forward. In the absence of that and the timing, we can all gain from looking in detail at all of the noise barriers, not just Compton Street but throughout and the change from a normal fence to an acoustic fence where that exists would do wonders and I think if we have got to wait 5 to 10 years for a conventional maintenance replacement you need to seriously look at the detailed improvements you could make to the acoustic barriers throughout the length of the motorway as it passes through the houses.[Applause]
Now we will ask John.
Maintenance of our part of M3: John Rylett
On the maintenance issue to be frank we haven’t got anything in the 5 year programme for that section of the road because there isn’t a need at this stage we have identified to undertake major maintenance on it, so there is nothing in the 5 year window that we got for the forward programme for junction 11 to 12.
John, can you say when is the deadline date for when this would be resurfaced?
Within the programme the Government are committed, quite rightly, you are quite correct in saying that 60% of the roads will be completed within the 10 year programme. There is not a detailed schedule of roads. What the Government have committed themselves to is covering 60% of the roads and motorways and all purpose trunk roads with low noise surfacing. There is no detail beyond that.
Is there a date by which we can expect, as an absolute deadline when the road is resurfaced with low noise material?
Again the answer is, I cannot go beyond the 5 year programme, which is our maintenance assessment programme.
This is 5 years from now?
Yes, that is right.
Then we have no date of which we can expect low noise material. Before we go on to the next question there is one thing that I would like to take up from that and that is that we have got problems with people affected on Otterbourne and Shawford Parishes far further afield than was anticipated before and the gentleman from Compton Street so rightly says they are being disturbed down in Compton Street. Would both Mott McDonald and the Highways Agency consider looking again into noise barriers and stopping the spread of this intrusive noise? Is there something that you two can do for us?
To be honest I think there is not any foreseeable possibility of doing that.
What is the reason for that?
Money. We have got a tight budget. We have got safety issues, we have got major maintenance issues and it would be very difficult to get the government to give us more money. We make the bids for it on the basis of need, which is again on the criteria we spelt out today for noise a similar criteria for maintenance etc.
John I understand what you say but I think you will find this is totally unacceptable to the members of both these Parishes here.[Applause]
I think you are quite right. The point that Mark Oaten made was that the way forward is a political move, we are bound by politics by our masters, I cannot shift heaven and earth for you even if I wanted to. Right now the only way forward is a political movement to be honest.
I am going to take the last question from Tom Threlfall.
Tyre tread patterns: Tom Threlfall
From Station Alley in Shawford. My spies in the United States inform me that there are now just two tread patterns that people can put on their truck tyres. Now nobody has mentioned tyres at all this evening and this is where the other half of the noise is coming from, isn’t it. In America now there are just these two truck tyre tread patterns which you can use and any other pattern is illegal. Do we happen to know whether the same sort of line of thought is being followed here or are we just taking the tread patterns that Mr Firestone turns out anyway?
Mike is that something you can answer?
I can’t answer that, but I guess the latter of your comments is the right one. I am not aware of any future legislation regarding tyre patterns on heavy lorries …
… either in this country or in Europe I think. I am not aware of any legislation that has been debated on tyre tread patterns.
What happens in America tends to follow here a few years later.
Robert Heathcock is going to put something in there.
Actually that is a really interesting point, because when you look at the different sources of the noise from road traffic you are quite right, tyre noise is a big constituent. So is the engine noise itself, as well the transmission in particular. But again, if people want information in terms of the detail of this, we have got quite a lot of information back at the office. The other thing which is quite a big contributor is actually wind noise as when traffic is moving at quite a speed you get quite a bit of noise from that but its an interesting point.
The Government, actually various Governments, have commissioned research projects to look at making quieter vehicles generally. There was a truck produced which was quite significantly quieter than the general sort of trucks that are around so its an issue that people are aware of but as yet there has been no move to say right, thou shalt do it this way. Perhaps America is a bit ahead of us. I suppose they have got to be ahead of us in some things.
Chairman’s closing remarks: Nick Campbell-White
Thank you very much. I am going to call the meeting to a close now. We said we would pack in at 9 o’clock, we have extended that by a little way.
I think it is fairly obvious to people here that there is a considerable level of concern and I hope that both our two principal guests here from the Highways Agency and from Mott McDonald have understood that there is a far greater level of concern than I think probably they realised; and that the noise intrusion in both Parishes extends way beyond just those people who live adjacent to and a few roads behind the motorway; and this is the disturbing factors that are occurring with the greater levels I think of the traffic, and of the 24 hour traffic we have got now, and I want them to take that on board.
We are obviously delighted to see so many, we will obviously start a campaign now and I think it is very gratifying that already Mark Oaten has said that he will start the ball rolling by asking questions in the House.
We will keep all of you informed but to do this we need to have your names and addresses. The attendance register I didn’t see going round, Charlotte Bailey has it at the moment – oh, it is on the way round and one at the back as well. If you have not signed this, and we are not all going to get out of the car park anyway all at once, those who haven’t signed it, would you be good enough to add your name and address and then any advance notice of meetings will be sent to you. I think we are going to now say to the gentlemen here thank you and we are going to call upon Peter Mason, who is a District Councillor for Otterbourne and Hursley to thank the requisite people.
Vote of thanks: Peter Mason
Thank you Chairman. Well it has been amazing to me, there are many people to thank tonight who put on this very good meeting, but I think I would start with the sound man because having given up my seat to the lady here – and I was very kind and somebody said “chivalry is it still alive, I didn’t realise that” but I do better standing up as I have got an old war wound – but the basis of it is that leaning against this window, the noise I can hear all the time, so for the sound man, I think he should be congratulated because without him we wouldn’t have heard an awful lot of what has been going on here tonight.
For all those on the top table, those who have left, our special guests – I know you have had a little bit of a hard time and I do take your comment that there are others above you, and we all have to report to our masters, but I do hope you go away and think long and hard what has happened here this evening, although I am sure it is not the first time, and make any representations you can, because this is something which is not only in this part of the world but in others, but here it is a very great concern to an awful lot of people and it is getting worse; and the sadness is, the worry that you have come out with this evening, that until the road breaks down, if you won’t even go past your 5 years, such as the trenching which they are repairing up at Kings Worthy, it is going to continue to get worse so we will have a campaign as the Chairman says and we will go from now.
To all those who put on the meeting for Ann and Charlotte, for all those at the top table, thank you very much, thank you all for coming, it has been a revelation on a very cold night like tonight to see so many people come out who couldn’t even get in the room and therefore as I say it proves to me that it is something worth fighting for. Thank you very much indeed. Good night to you all.