Live news as it happens at the sixth day of the inquiry at Blackpool Football Club into Cuadrilla’s fracking plans for the Fylde area of Lancashire. Check our Inquiry page for more information, posts and links.
Today the inquiry hears from Johnny Ojeil, Cuadrilla’s traffic witness, about the route to the proposed Roseacre Wood site.
The inquiry adjourns until 6.30pm this evening when local people have a chance to make comments on the Roseacre Wood application
Inskip route Mr Ojeil told the Inspector, Wendy McKay, the route through the Inksip defence site to Roseacre Wood, avoiding Wharles, would be used by lorries going in both directions.
Wharles route Ms McKay asked about controls on the use of a route through Wharles, rather than through the Inskip defence site. Cuadrilla proposes lorries would go through the Inskip site during busy periods. But there had been concerns that the route would not be possible if Inskip flooded. Mr Ojeil said a planning condition could deal with the issue.
HGV driver behaviour Ms McKay asked whether the proposed Traffic Management Plan was placing “rather a lot” of faith in the behaviour of HGV drivers. Mr Ojeil said there would be training days and information for the drivers to familiarise them with the procedures.
Disciplining drivers The Traffic Management Plan (TMP) sets out disciplinary measures for drivers who breach the requirements. Ms McKay suggested there may be quite a few breaches before Cuadrilla cancelled a delivery contract. Mr Ojeil said the measures could be brought forward.
Risks to cyclists, walkers and horse riders Ms McKay asked whether the TMP was weak in the way that it dealt with possible risks to cyclists, walkers and horse riders on the route to Roseacre Wood. Mr Ojeil said this would be covered in education of drivers, who would be informed about the number of pedestrians.
Roseacre resident questions traffic witness
Entrance to Roseacre Wood site
Christopher Noad, of Roseacre Farmhouse, asks Cuadrilla’s traffic witness, Johnny Ojeil, about a drawing showing the entrance and exit of the Roseacre Wood site. He asks if this would be used to get in and out of the Inskip site. Mr Ojeil said the proposed entrance had been moved since the creation of the drawing.
Mr Noad said the drawing showed two heavy goods vehicles side by side in the entrance. Mr Ojeil said the entrance would be 9.2m wide. If it needed to be wider then it could be widened.
Roseacre Wood site track
A track into the site was wide enough for two HGVs to pass, Mr Ojeil said. Mr Noad said “It looks to me that this is also 9.2m”. Mr Ojeil said would be of that order.
“You and Arup and Cuadrilla believe you need 9.2m for two HGVs to pass”, Mr Noad said. Mr Ojeil replied HGVs could pass in a space of 6m.
Mr Noad said: “You have changed the entrance and there are no longer passing places in Wharles village and Roseacre Road”. Mr Ojeil agreed.
Mr Noad made the point that the only issue that had been considered by the safety forum to be implemented would be passing places in Dagger Road.
Cuadrilla barrister reviews traffic evidence
Nathalie Lieven, the barrister for Cuadrilla, reviews the evidence of Johnny Ojeil, the company’s traffic witness.
Impacts of traffic Mr Ojeil said the number of additional lorries caused by the proposed fracking site would be very low and would therefore not have a severe impact.
Dagger Road width Ms Lieven asked about Dagger Road, which is on the lorry route to Roseacre Wood. “What’s your evidence as to those sections of Dagger Road where two cars cannot pass?”
Mr Ojeil said: “Most of that road, two cars can pass. I drove the route and I passed cars and HGVs [heavy goods vehicles].”
Passing places Cuadrilla is proposing to create five passing places on Dagger Road with “give-way” lines on the road. It had been suggested this would confuse drivers. Mr Ojeil said: “I think there are a lot of examples that “give-way” lines are there. Signage does help”, he added.
Layby Cuadrilla also proposes to park lorries in a lay-by on the A583 to control movements to the Roseacre Wood site. If the layby is full, vehicles would travel in a loop through parts of Preston. Ms Lieven asked how often this would be needed. Mr Ojeil said it would be very rare. A survey over a fortnight found the layby full occupied only for 25 minutes.
Traffic study Mr Ojeil said he had not addressed the findings in a road safety study by Tom Hasty for Roseacre Awareness Group. He said:
“I think in my proof I covered the whole route. We honed in on sections that needed approving. I felt that the material provided was nothing new.”
Mr Ojeil said Mr Hasty’s study highlighted concerns about junctions that had not been raised by Lancashire County Council.
“Lorry route is not practicable” – parish council
Cllr Peter Collins, of Newton with Clifton Parish Council, puts questions ti Cuadrilla’s traffic witness, Johnny Ojeil.
Mr Collins told the inquiry one of the principles used in choosing a route for lorries would be to provide a direct link between Roseacre Wood and the strategic road network (SRN).
Mr Collins said the A583, which forms part of the proposed route to Roseacre Wood, is not part of the SRN. The nearest part was 18km from the proposed site. He put it to Mr Ojeil:
“Your route does not comply with the principle.”
Mr Ojeil said this was only one of the criteria used. The inspector, Wendy McKay, asked him to answer the question. Mr Ojeil agreed that the route did not comply with the principle on this issue.
Mr Ojeil also agreed that the proposed route was longer than one of the alternatives that had been short-listed.
Cllr Collins said the route was not practicable because it did not link the Roseacre Wood with the SRN.
Mr Ojeil disagreed.
The inquiry breaks until 1.50pm
Roseacre traffic report “extreme” – Cuadrilla witness
Robin Green, the barrister for Roseacre residents, tells the inquiry about a safety report by traffic engineer, Tom Hasty, commissioned by Roseacre Awareness Group.
Mr Hasty concluded that the use of the proposed route to Roseacre Wood by heavy goods vehicles (HGV) would “result in unacceptable risk of accident at a number points.” He said the impact on the safety of the route would be “severe”.
Johnny Ojeil, Cuadrilla’s transport witness, told the inquiry he consider this conclusion was “extreme”.
Mr Green said:
“Mr Hasty’s report draws attention to hazards likely to be exacerbated by this development”
Mr Ojeil said:
“I disagree with that”.
Mr Green put it to Mr Ojeil that he had relied on a safety audit commissioned for Cuadrilla. He had not carried a comprehensive study.
Mr Ojeil acknowledged that he had not done a study of the type done by Mr Hasty but he added that the safety audit had been given accident figures for the whole of the route. He said:
“I did enough that was sufficient to produce in front of the inquiry and for the Traffic Management Plan to be satisfied that the route is workable.”
“Vast increase” in lorry traffic to Roseacre Wood
Robin Green, barrister for Roseacre residents, discusses Cuadrilla’s proposal to cap the number of the biggest heavy goods vehicle movements each day at 50 on the route to Roseacre Wood. He said:
“The proposed cap of 50 would result in a vast increase in HGVs using most of the route”.
He said Cuadrilla’s traffic survey last year counted two of the biggest HGVs on Dagger Road, part of the proposed route to Roseacre Wood.
The company’s traffic witness, Johnny Ojeil, said Cuadrilla did not deny there would be a large rise in percentage terms.
Mr Green said:
“In absolute terms they rise from two to up to 50.”
Mr Ojeil said the lorries might vary in length. “We have designed for the largest vehicles”.
Mr Green said:
“At present, very few of the vehicles in Dagger Road and Inskip Road are of the size proposed to serve the appeal site.”
Types of heavy goods vehicles
Robin Green, barrister for Roseacre residents, begins questioning Cuadrilla’s traffic witness, Johnny Ojeil, of Arup.
Mr Green told the inquiry that the Roseacre Awareness Group had asked for a breakdown of the types of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) that Cuadrilla planned to use to deliver to the proposed Roseacre Wood site. They had been told the information would be provided at the inquiry .
But Mr Ojeil said he did not have this information. He said the biggest articulated lorries, measuring up to 16.5m, would be a large proportion of the vehicles during peak HGV movements.
Enforcing traffic plans
Alan Evans, barrister for Lancashire County Council, asked Cuadrilla’s traffic witness, Johnny Ojeil, about the proposed traffic management plan for the Roseace Wood site
Mr Evans asked: “How would the mineral planning authority ever get to know if the plan had been breached?”
Mr Ojeil said data about lorry arrivals and departures would be shared. A breach would not happen, he said.
Mr Evans said:
“The Mineral Planning Authority might find out that a peak [in lorry movements] had been exceeded but it would be too late to do anything about it because that phase of the work has happened.”
Mr Ojeil saidl:
“I don’t accept that. Remedial measures can be put in enforcement actions.”
Mr Evans said:
“The MPA would be restricted to issuing an enforcement notice under the Town and Country Planning Act and it would need to give 28 days for the notice to be effective.”
“The reality is that these formal enforcement tools available to an MPA, like Lancashire County Council, are blunt tools.”
Mr Ojeil said regulating routes was fairly common.
Pedestrians and cyclists
The inquiry hears that Cuadrila’s plans to create lorry passing places on Dagger Road on the way to Roseacre Wood will remove road side verges.
Alan Evans, barrister for Lancashire County Council, said this might have been a refuge for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
Johnny Ojeil, traffic witness for Cuadrilla, said there were already wheel tracks on the verges and the passing places would improve issues.
The hearing also hears that Cuadrilla carried out a survey of pedestrians along the proposed route but it had not put this before the inquiry.
Mr Evans said the lorry route coincided with a designated cycleway in Treales Road. A cycleway also crossed the lorry route in Church Lane.
Mr Evans said:
“To design a route where there are up to 50 two-way HGV [heavy goods vehicle] movements which cyclists may encounter on these rural routes is not a good idea”.
Mr Ojeil said:
“I disagree if you can mitigate.”
Width of Dagger Road
Alan Evans, barrister for Lancashire County Council, turns to the issue of Dagger Road, a section of the route lorries would need to travel along to get to the proposed Roseacre Wood site.
Mr Evans said there were sections that measured between 4.3 and 5.1m. In these areas, he said, a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and a car would not be able to pass.
Johnny Ojeil, Cuadrilla’s traffic witness, said lorries needed 5.5m to pass.
Mr Evans put it to him that the National Planning Policy Framework would not consider Dagger Road as suitable access for HGVs.
Mr Ojeil disagreed. He said it you applied this to the rural road network then “nothing would happen”. He said visibility and the frequency of HGV journeys needed to be considered.
Mr Evans put it to Mr Ojeil that because passing places were proposed on Dagger Road meant the road was not a suitable route as it stood. Mr Ojeil said the problem could be mitigated with the passing places.
Junctions on route to Roseacre Wood
Cuadrilla’s transport witness tells the inquiry about junctions on the lorry route to the proposed Roseacre Wood site.
The barrister for Lancashire County Council, Alan Evans, put it to him that lorries would have to cross the central line of roads at junctions along part of the route.
Mr Ojeil replied: “I am not disagreeing with you but visibility at the junctions is more than adequate”.
Inskip and Wharles route
Alan Evans, for Lancashire County Council, asked Johnny Ojeil, the transport witness for Cuadrilla about the proposed route to Roseacre Wood through the Inskip defence site.
Cuadrilla proposes to use the route through Inskip during the periods when lorry traffic is likely to be greatest, to avoid going through the village of Wharles.
Mr Evans asked Mr Ojeil:
“Why not use Inskip route for whole of the work. It is used at the start and the end. Is there any reason why it can’t be used for the whole project?”
Mr Ojeil replied:
“I can’t say why. I can only say it is not needed [for the middle period]”.
Mr Evans asked if a legal agreement for access through the Inskip site had been prepared.
Mr Ojeil said he understood the legal agreement had not been finalised. He didn’t know what it contained.
Cuadrilla confirmed there would be no road improvements in Wharles to accommodate lorries from the site
Safety of the lorry route
Alan Evans, barrister for Lancashire County Council, asked Cuadrilla’s traffic witnesses, Johnny Ojeil, about a safety audit on the lorry route to the proposed fracking site at Roseacre Wood.
Lancashire County Council had refused the Roseacre Wood application on road safety grounds.
Mr Ojeil had said in his evidence that “safety is not an issue because of increases in HGV [lorrry] numbers.”
He relied on the safety audit, to support his professional judgement, the inquiry heard.
Mr Evans said the safety auditors had looked at the temporary access to the site and the proposed passing places on Dagger Road – not the entire route.
Mr Ojeil replied:
“We gave them all the accident data, the traffic management plan, all the route the HGVs would take. If they had found an accident trend they are obliged to report it. Whatever data you give them they are obliged to look at it.”
Mr Evans said:
“There is nothing in this safety audit that deals with the rest of the route”.
Mr Ojeil said this was not surprising because the rest of the route had no problems for HGVs.
Peaks in lorry movements
Lancashire County Council’s barrister, Alan Evans, asked Cuadrilla’s transport witness, Johnny Ojeil, about the peak movement of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) to the proposed Roseacre Wood site.
The council refused permission for the Roseacre Wood application in June 2015 on traffic grounds.
Mr Evans said the plan proposed two four-week traffic peaks at the start and end of the proposed project. They would be during site construction and decommissioning and would have up to 40-50 two way HGV movements. There would then be a further four one-week peaks of 40-50 two-way movements.
He said opponents of the scheme disagreed with this assessment. Mr Ojeil said the numbers had been provided by Cuadrilla and represented a worst case.
Mr Evans suggested to Mr Ojeil there would be nothing to stop Cuadrilla increasing that number of peaks above 12 weeks.
Mr Oheil said:
“I would put a lot of weight on the judgement of Cuadrilla. If the 12 weeks becomes 14 in my opinion that is not a problem because of the low number of vehicles we are talking about.”
Mr Evans said there would also be weeks there would be 20-40 two-way HGV movements each day. Mr Ojeil said this would not necessarily happen every day of the week and added:
“I don’t think they’re significant”.
Mr Evans said 25 two-way HGV movements in Dagger Road would amount to a 100% increase in baseline traffic numbers.
Cuadrilla confirmed it would submit to a condition restricting the number of traffic peaks during the extended well tests but not during the first two years of the proposed development.
Hedges and wing mirrors
Alan Evans, the barrister for Lancashire County Council, begins to question the evidence of Cuadrilla’s traffic witnesses, Johnny Ojeil, of Arup.
Mr Evans asked about the width of Dagger Road on the route to the proposed Roseacre Wood site. Cuadrilla has planned to create passing places to allow two heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to pass each other. Mr Evans suggested to Mr Ojeil that allowance needed to be made for wing mirrors and so the proposed 5.5m width would not be enough.
Mr Ojeil said “You don’t need to include that [allowance] for passenger wing mirrors at three of the passing places because the hedges are 1m or less.”
Mr Evans put it to him:
“There is no control over the hedges by Cuadrilla.”
Mr Ojeil replied:
“I have been working on this for sometime. The hedges have always been about 1m high. I don’t think the hedges will suddenly jump from 1m to 2m. There is no control but it is a correct assessment to assume the wing mirrors are not an issue.”