Live news as it happens at the ninth 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.
The inquiry is examining Cuadrilla’s plans to drill and frack at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. Today Lancashire County Council presents its case against Preston New Road on noise grounds and Roseacre Wood because of traffic impacts. Witnesses Dr Andrew McKenzie (noise) and Neil Stevens (highways) will give evidence and be cross-examined by Cuadrilla’s barrister, Nathalie Lieven.
The inquiry adjourns until 10am on Thursday 25th February. Tomorrow (Wednesday 24th February) the inspector will be visiting the appeal sites.
“Uncertainty about overcoming safety issues”
Inquiry inspector, Wendy McKay, asked Neil Stevens about the ability of Cuadrilla to have sufficient control of traffic conditions.
Mr Stevens said the council would work with developers to ensure conditions were reasonable and could be delivered.
“But we have to ensure that what is written down can be satisfied at all stages.”
“There is a lack of certainty that these issues can be overcome. And if they can’t be overcome it will be to the detriment of highway safety. “
Ms McKay said Dagger Road was the narrowest section of the road. Mr Stevens said it was not just an issue of two Neil Stevens, for Lancashire County Council, said it was unrealistic for him to be provided with two HGVs passing each other that would have an impact on vulnerable users.
Cuadrilla had provided new information to the inquiry about negotiations over the use of the Inskip site. This hadn’t changed his concerns, Mr Stevens said. There would be restrictions on the use of the Inskip route and he wanted to know if there could there be a safe access from the Roseacre site to the Inskip defence site. This hadn’t been provided by Cuadrilla, Mr Stevens said.
Ms McKay asked why drivers used the centre of narrow rural road. Mr Stevens explained that roads in rural settings had no markings. The roads changed direction and the driver had to consider incidents coming from the left or right because visibility is not always good. There were also hedges along the length of the roads, at the same height as the car. But he added that driving in the centre of the road carried the risk of a head-on collision.
Mr Stevens said the council could ask the landowner to cut roadside hedges to improve visibility but it could not enforce this.
He told the inspector that drivers may need to reverse if they met another vehicle or an HGV before a passing place. He also raised problems of blind bends on Dagger Road and the risks to cyclists from mud on the road and potholes.
“This route will not be safe for users”
Re-examination of transport witness
Cuadrilla had suggested it could provide daily logs of vehicles in and out of the Roseacre Wood site to prove that planning conditions were being complied with.But Neil Stevens, for Lancashire County Council, said this was unrealistic.
He had argued that a breach would be discovered only after it had been committed. He said the only action available to the council would be to refuse Cuadrilla permission to use the route to the site.
Alan Evans, the barrister, for Lancashire County Council, asked Mr Stevens about Cuadrilla’s chart on traffic generated by different operations at Roseacre Wood. Mr Stevens said the chart started off correctly. But he added there were anomalies and uncertainties about the peak traffic flows.
Asked about the safety of the road network, Mr Stevens said it was safe at the moment and the risks were managed about current flows. As soon as we start increasing the numbers of HGVs there is an increasing probability of accidents, he said.
“These figures are significant. On this route, it will not be safe for users.”
Mr Stevens added:
“A C-class road is not suitable for HGVs”
Neil Stevens said there were sections of Dagger Road where cars and HGVs could not pass.
Mr Evans asked how much should the planners rely on appropriate driver behaviour. Mr Stevens replied: “I have to make sure that the network is safe for all users, whatever driver behaviour. The network has to be safe.”
Mr Stevens said the council’s road safety officer had accepted that drivers will take risks.
Mr Stevens said the company’s safety audit was concerned only with the passing places, not the passing places.
Pedestrians and horses
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, asked Neil Stevens whether he was contesting the company’s survey of pedestrians on Dagger Road, part of the lorry route to Roseacre Wood.
Mr Stevens, for the council, said he didn’t disagree with the figures. But he added:
“The numbers go up and do go down. I did a site visit two weeks ago. I was in the area for over two hours and spent an hour and a quarter on Dagger Road. In that time I saw 11 cyclists, 5 HGVs, 10 cars and 1 horse and 1 man and a dog.”
Mr Stevens said he didn’t have evidence of large number of horses on Dagger Road. Ms Lieven put it to him that horse riders had to be able to cope with HGVs already.
Mr Stevens said the risk intensified with increases in HGVs. He said this would increase distress to the horse. Ms Lieven said you had to be able to control your horse if you rode on Dagger Road. Mr Stevens agreed.
Nathalie Lieven put it to Neil Stevens that people in the area would be aware of the Cuadrilla site. But Mr Stevens said not all drivers across the network would know about the increased HGVs in the area.
Ms Lieven said regular drivers on Dagger Road, a narrow section of the proposed lorry route, would already have to watch out for HGVs.
Mr Stevens said drivers would not know what was happening on the site. “We are always in a rush”, he said.
“HGVs may be low on some days and then suddenly there was a peak from 15 to 45 vehicles in one day. The prospect of meeting an HGV suddenly goes up. It is huge peaks that occur. It is a huge issue.”
Ms Lieven said she was unconvinced by his reply. She said drivers would be aware of the need to be alert. In an ideal world, Mr Stevens replied. There could be a 10-fold increase, he said. It is a concern I have made on four occasions.
Ms Lieven said vehicles would be travelling so slowly that the prospects of accidents were low. Mr Stevens said the proposed passing places could cause accidents.
“Let’s get a grip on reality”, she said. “On your scenario there could be rear-end shunts all over the country”. She put it to Mr Stevens that drivers were unlikely to overtake HGVs. Mr Stevens said it wouldn’t be sensible and there were accident issues. But he added:
“We have not considered the additional HGVs and the level of frustration that may cause to existing users”.
Direct protests on holding area
Neil Stevens said direct protests could prevent lorries using a holding layby, proposed by Cuadrilla. Nathalie Lieven, for the company, said the police would prevent any action over the layby. Mr Stevens said the police could not stop people using a public layby. “They are there to use all day”, he said.
Cross-examination by Cuadrilla
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, said national policy is clear that for an application to be refused the traffic impact had to be severe.
She put it to Neil Stevens, for the council, that his concern was about the increase in HGV traffic. He agreed.
Ms Lieven said to decide if this was materially significant you had to consider the quantity of increase, the duration of the increase and the characteristics of the road.
Mr Stevens said duration was important and was one factor that needed to be considered. But he said the consequences of duration was important. He said if you were familiar with the local network you would experience several periods of peak lorry traffic. If it was continuous at a high level people would be aware that there would be an issue.
He agreed with Ms Lieven that he had no concerns about the capacity of junctions or their accident records.
Traffic management plan not in Cuadrilla’s control
Cuadrilla proposes to use a layby as a holding area for HGVs. But Neil Stevens, for the council, said: “It offers limited benefit but there is no control over it.”
Neil Stevens, for Lancashire County Council, said: “There is no certainty that the route through the Inskip defence site is available because the agreement has not been signed.”
He said using the Inskip site requires safe access into the site to support the route. Mr Stevens said there was no information about the road design, security, waiting areas.
The TMP relies on driver education, Mr Stevens said. “But driver education would not overcome the issues with cyclists and equestrians.”
He added: whilst HGV movements will be capped to 50, there are concerns that this may not happen. It could be linked to a condition but it would then have to be enforced.
Mr Stevens said: “The TMP had a long list of penalties but I am not sure they will be used”.
Enforcing the plan
Planning conditions had to be enforceable, Mr Stevens said. It has to be possible to detect a breach. If 50 vehicles had been exceeded it would be known only after the event. No doubt the figures would be collected, Mr Stevens said. But the enforcement would be after the event.
On the use of the Inskip site, he said Cuadrilla had no control over this.
“The applicant will be party to the agreement but they do not have ful control. It is not in their gift to use the MOD site. I am not aware of that agreement being signed so there is a risk.”
“I have huge concerns there is no solution” to traffic route
Cuadrilla has proposed to add five passing places to Dagger Lane to allow two HGVs to pass side by side.
Neil Stevens, for Lancashire County Council, said there was a “huge operational weakness” to the passing points.
On parts of the route, he said, HGV drivers in a passing place had to be able to see the next passing place and the road beyond that. Mr Stevens said this was obscured by a tree and a dip in the road.
Cuadrilla’s traffic witness, Johnny Ojeil, had earlier told the inquiry that any issues on the passing places could be worked out in detailed designs. Mr Stevens gave his reaction to this:
“It is quite shocking that he is willing to say that. There are issues that have been highlighted by the safety audity. I have highlighted issues with Arup.”
“Without this drawings being provided I have a huge concern there is no solution.”
“These are real issues that cannot be overcome.”
“Nothing delivered on promises to vulnerable road users”
Neil Stevens, the transport witness for Lancashire County Council, said he had issues on Cuadrilla’s proposed traffic route to Roseacre which is used by cyclists and some pedestrians and horse riders when they came into conflict with HGVs. There is already a risk, he said, but so far there have been no accidents.
Mr Stevens HGVs would cause distress to horses using the whole route. Consideration must be given to horses, he said.
“Arup originally said they would consider horses and cyclists. But nothing had been presented except HGVs will travel at lower speeds past horses.”
Road safety audit
Arup, working for Cuadrilla, commissioned a safety audit of the traffic route.
Neil Stevens, for the county council, said he often called for safety audits. They were done at points of change, he said. But he criticised this audit.
“This is only a safety audit of the passing places – not the proposed traffic corridor. If it was, it would have identified other safety issues, vertical, as well as horizontal.”
Mr Stevens said the council had been using safety audits for 10 years. The auditor would look at the routes, lanes, road width, if there was to be an incident, what would be the severity: would it be severe, damage only or fatal. That would be applied to all the issues in the safety audit.
Mr Stevens said the Arup audit had identified improvements that could be made but he said there were still high risk locations at passing place on the route.
Predicted safety problems
Neil Stevens, for Lancashire County Council, said there were currently no road safety problems on the traffic route to Roseacre Wood. But he was concerned about the impact of increased lorry journeys on the rural roads.
“You have to consider the impacts of existing users of extra HGVs. They are using that road as it is today. They are not expecting a 200% increase in HGVs.”
He identified the main risks:
- Side impact of two vehicles passing.
- Impacts where HGVs could not get the back end of their trailer into waiting areas
- Rear end shunts and side swipes in passing places
- Head-on collisions (some speeds were currently high though within the limit)
- Motorbikes overtaking an HGV then colliding with a vehicle coming towards them
- Car drivers losing control while overtaking.
- Wheel scrubbing by HGVs polishing the road surface, which affects the stopping distance of other vehicles
“These are country lanes that are maintained but in a basic form. There are potholes. These roads were never built for the weight of these vehicles.”
Some sections of the route were only visible if hedges were kept low, Mr Stevens said. But this was outside the highway authority’s control.
Traffic generated by Roseace Wood “uncertain”
Alan Evans, for Lancashire County Council, reminded the inquiry that there would be a cap of 50 HGVs two-way journeys each day.
Neil Stevens confirmed there may be more traffic generated by the site than had been predicted by Arup for Cuadrilla.
He said he was not an expert in fracking. But he said there was a level of uncertainty about the numbers and their impact.
Mr Stevens said he had been provided with confidential information about expected journeys in and out. He said: “There would be a much greater level of movement than had been indicted.”
He said the programme was likely to accelerate and slip in some areas. On top of that he had included a safety factor, which had also increased likely vehicle numbers.
Mr Stevens said Cuadrilla had not provided details of the machinery, equipment and materials that had to be moved – just the predicted HGV movements.
His figures were significantly different, he said. “It highlights uncertainty. There is uncertainty. Other information presented by Arup on staffing levels doesn’t necessarily accord with their assessment. These numbers could be higher in some areas.”
Problems of big lorries on country lanes
Neil Stevens, for Lancashire County Council, identifies areas where HGV [heavy goods vehicles] would have to mount verges or cross centre lines on the route to Roseacre Wood. He said cyclists using local lanes would come into conflicts with lorries using the route to the site.
Mr Stevens said he had taken account of the the width of passenger side wing mirrors on HGVs because there were high hedges next to the carriageway. Cuadrilla had said this was not necessary because its landscape witness said the hedges were no higher than 1m. Mr Steven said there were hedges above 1m.
Cuadrilla had argued that 5.5m width of the road was enough. Mr Stevens said a safety margin should be included and the path they needed to take on the road.
Drilling inquiry pauses for drilling noise
The inquiry pauses because a sound of drilling in a room next door could make the webcast difficult to hear.
Roseacre Wood HGV traffic would have unacceptable impact
Neil Stevens, Highways Management Control Officer, Lancashire County Council, gives evidence on the traffic impacts of the Roseacre Wood site.
He said the impact of the increase in traffic from Roseacre Wood would be severe and would have a material effect on existing road users, particularly vulnerable ones.
Despite the proposed passing places, the route would still result in conflicts compromising the existing network, causing problems for existing road users.
“There would be unacceptable impacts on existing road network, contrary to policy DM2 of the Lancashire Minerals and Waste Plan”
Mr Stevens said on Cuadrilla’s figures the Roseacre Wood scheme would generate significant HGV movements on rural lands. But he said he was concerned that the figures were an underestimate.
He added that elements of Cuadrilla’s transport management plan were unenforcible and not in the control of the company so could not be delivered.
Mr Stevens added that the impact of the increase of HGV movements would be severe and would have a severe effect on pedestrians and cyclists. There would be a risk to highway safety that was contrary to policy,he said.
There would also be an impact on the amenity of local community, which would be medium to high, also contrary to policy. Mr Stevens added:
“The site is remote from the major road network. Safe and suitable access cannot be achieved by the Traffic Management Plan and the impacts would be severe. It would give rise to unacceptable impacts on local road users. The development should be refused on transport grounds.”
A member of the public asked a question about the impact of noise on people who sleep during the day. Lancashire County Council is to provide details of why it had not looked at this.
The inquiry adjourns until 2pm
Questions from the inspector
Andrew McKenzie had criticised the survey methodology of noise sampling. The inspector, Wendy McKay, asked how long should the surveys have been carried out.He said they should have been done for at least a week. He also criticised the way Arup had averaged noise levels in its survey for Cuadrilla.
Ms McKay asked him about the characteristics of the noise from the proposed Preston New Road site. Dr McKenzie said the noise was likely to include tonal noise but he was satisfied this could be dealt with by planning conditions.
Where there was low background noise, the noise level with the lowest observable adverse effect would be 35 decibel, Dr McKenzie said.
Ms McKay asked about Cuadrilla’s proposal. Mr McKenzie said:
“Noise control is part of any operation so I am a bit of a loss about why we have gone forward here with the proposal for a 8m high noise barrier around the drilling rig when it seems to me there must be more cost and noise effective solutions to reducing noise.”
Ms McKay asked him how he would have approach noise mitigation:
“I would have looked to the manufacturer of the equipment to provide solutions. I would have looked for a better solution through better drilling equipment, to shrouding, possibly to individual baffling of components within the rig itself.”
Ms McKay asked Dr McKenzie about the likelihood of night-time effects of noise.
“It is very difficult. We are looking at people who will be exposed to this particular noise at this particular location. It depends on the individual: how much they are annoyed by the noise, how much that causes stress and how much that causes sleep disturbance. Stress and sleep disturbance will affect their ability to go about their everyday lives.”
“I think this is very likely because of the nature of the development.”
Alan Evans, the barrister for Lancashire County Council, re-examines Dr Andrew McKenzie, the council’s noise witness.
Mr Evans asked Dr McKenzie about sleep disturbance. Dr McKenzie had given evidence that if you were woken by one noise a different noise may stop you getting back to sleep. Dr McKenzie said this evidence helped to establish what was the lowest noise that would have an adverse effect on sleep. He said 35 decibel was the lowest level likely to have this effect.
Mr Evans turned to a government document, used by Cuadrilla this morning, which seeks to put to a value on sleep disturbance.This claimed that data on noise levels at 45 decibels or below was unreliable. Dr McKenzie had said the document was irrelevant. He added that annoyance with a source of noise at night may prevent people getting back to sleep.
Dr McKenzie confirmed that he did not think a British Standard BS5228 used by Cuadrilla in its noise assessment was appropriate.
Dr McKenzie said noise above 42 decibels would count as a significant adverse effect.
Mr Evans asked Dr McKenzie why the background night noise level (known as LA90). Dr McKenzie said this was the level against which the residents would judge the level of noise from the new development. Cuadrilla had suggested that the LAeq level was more relevant.
What happens if Cuadrilla broke night noise limits?
Nathalie Lieven, Cuadrilla’s barrister, referred to la previous offer by Cuadrilla to use acoustic screens to reduce the night time noise level at Preston New Road from 42 decibels to 39 decibels. This offer has since been withdrawn.
Ms Lieven put it to Dr McKenzie, for the council:
“If a condition of 42db was set and night-time noise went above this, it would be open to the council to enforce because we know there is a technical solution that can reduce that level down to another 3db.”
Dr McKenzie agreed but he said Cuadrilla’s case had been that this would be onerous and an unreasonable burden on the operator.
Ms Lieven said:
“It would be quite difficult for Cuadrilla to argue that they should be allowed to breach a noise level of 42 decibels in circumstances where it was technically possible to reduce it by another 3 decibels.”
Dr McKenzie replied:
“We may be in a position, with a 15% likelihood, that Cuadrilla will have to impose unreasonable means of themselves just to reach the maximum limit.”
“People will acclimatise to noise pretty quickly”
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, said the evidence is clear from the night noise guidance:
“People acclimatise to new noise sources pretty quickly.”
She said Cuadrill’s drilling noise was unlikely to wake people up.
Dr Andrew McKenzie, for Lancashire County Council, said physiology, such as heart rates, did not adapt. He said the guidance did not refer to “an injection of an industrial source into a rural environment.”
“I don’t think you will find that adaptation to drilling noise in a couple of day or you would not see the level of complaints to, for example, wind farms.”
Ms Lieven said quick acclimatisation would apply as much to drilling as road and rail. Dr McKenzie said people would be concerned about what was going on underground and that would affect their likelihood to complain.
The inquiry heard disagreement about how noise surveys were carried out and what measures they used.
Dr McKenzie said the most important issue was whether the night time noise limit was acceptable. He said the survey for Cuadrilla was “not fit for purposes in defining the existing noise environment”.
Noise effects at Preston New Road
Nathalie Lieven said Dr McKenzie had raised the possible impact on other properties near Preston New Road, other than Foxwood Chase and Steining Wood Cottages. These included properties to north and west of the site on Plumpton Lane and Moss House Lane.
Ms Lieven asked: “Are you saying the impact on those [other] properties would be or would not be unacceptable?”
Dr McKenzie replied: “We don’t know what the situation is there.”
Ms Lieven: “Have you done any noise survey?”
Dr McKenzie: “No”
Ms Lieven: “If you thought there was the possibility of an unacceptable limit shouldn’t you have carried out the survey or recommended them?”
Dr McKenzie: “They should have been carried out but they weren’t.”
Ms Lieven: “Did you advise LCC [Lancashire County Council]?”
Dr McKenzie: “No”
Ms Lieven said other noise consultants had concluded that these extra properties were further away from the proposed Preston New Road site and closer to the M55 notorway so did not need to be surveyed.
Dr McKenzie said he had concerns about how the noise surveys were carried out.
Daytime noise limit “not properly derived”
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrila, put it to Dr McKenzie that he was content for a condition for Preston New Road that set a daytime limit at 55 decibels to avoid observable impacts. Dr McKenzie replied:
“I am not in position to answer that comment. We have no information for what that limit should be.”
“I have concerns that this limit was not properly derived”.
“Shifting attention to other guidance”
Cuadrilla’s barrister, Nathalie Lieven, said the high speed rail line, HS2 project, had set a level of construction noise for night-time at 45 decibels. This had been set by a parliamentary committee, she said.
Dr McKenzie, for Lancashire County Council, said he didn’t know how the decibel levels had been managed on the HS2 project. He had previously said that HS2 was a “longitudinal project” where the noise moved along the length of the railwayline
Ms Lieven said night time noise for wind turbines was 43 db. Dr McKenzie said this was not a continuous noise and not relevant to drilling at Preston New Road.
Dr McKenzie suggested Cuadrilla was trying to shift attention to other guidelines when the policy guidance on minerals stated that noise should be set to as low as reasonably possible.
Document “not relevant”
Dr McKenzie said a government document on costing noise impacts (see section before the break) was solely concerned with environmental noise and transport.
The inquiry has a break until 11.35am
UK government guidance on sleep disturbance
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, introduced a cross-departmental government document on environmental noise. It looks at the cost implications of sleep disturbance on annoyance, hypertension, productivity and quiet. Ms Lieven said:
“This is a document to assist in the production of cost-benefit analysis, which is the way the government monetises the impact of environmental noise.”
Ms Lieven said the docment concluded: “Data below 45 decibels relating to sleep disturbance is sufficiently unreliable to be excluded from an analysis”.
Cuadrilla is currently proposing a night-time noise limit of 42 decibels.
Dr McKenzie, who has argued for a lower maximum limit, said he thought the document was irrelevant.
Dr McKenzie said there was plenty of traffic on Preston New Road that might wake people up. But what he was concerned about, he said, was how easy it would be for people living nearby to get back to sleep with drilling noise from the site.
Cuadrilla’s barrister, Nathalie Lieven, put it to him the noise guidance said self-reported sleep disturbance occurred at a noise level of 42 decibels. Dr McKenzie said the guidance didn’t take into account the difficulty of getting back to sleep, which is what caused stress.
Dr McKenzie said a noise level of 35db was when complaints began to arise. He said comparing the 35db level with 42db in the noise guidance wasn’t helpful because the guidance was talking about traffic noise.
Ms Lieven said complaints about noise around Schiphol Airport saw a negligible increase in complaints between 35 and 42 db.
Dr McKenzie said: “We know people will complain above 35db. He said it was wrong to apply this to aircraft noise.”
“It has to be below 42. What shouuld that level be. It could be 30 because there would be no complaints. But I am taking a more pragmatic view and using the World Health Organisation night noise guidance to inform what a reasonable bottom level would be.”
Type of noise
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, put it to Andrew McKenzie people were less likely to complain about rail and road noise, particularly at a distance. But she said it was not true of aircraft noise.
Dr McKenzie said people were more likely to be annoyed by noise by air traffic.
“39 decibels would meet planning policy”
Cuadrilla had offered to reduce night-time noise to 39 decibels by using sound screening at the Preston New Road. It has since withdrawn the offer after Lancashire County Council turned down the fracking applications.
Dr Andrew McKenzie, for the council, said Cuadrilla had demonstrated that it could meet that 39db limit. Anything below that would be an unreasonable burden on it.
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, put it to Dr McKenzie that Lancashire County Council should not have refused Preston New Road on noise grounds because the noise condition met planning guidance.
Dr McKenzie said: “That is correct but the committee felt that [39 decibels] wasn’t enough to prevent noise impact.”
Ms Lieven said: “Your evidence to this inquiry is that if that condition [on 39 decibels] was applied then it met the Planning Policy Guidance.”
Dr McKenzie: “It meets the policy in that it cannot be made quieter without the unreasonable burden.But that wasn’t enough for the committee.”
He added that 39 decibels would not necessarily avoid noise impact or annoyance.
Noise complaints related to “unpopularity of fracking”
Andrew McKenzie, for Lancashire County Council, said people would complain and get stressed by the fracking site at Preston New Road if it were approved.
It will cause perceived effects on the quality of life and quality of sleep of people living nearby, he said.
“Those are the adverse effects that need to be balanced”, he said. “If consent is given it is in the knowledge that it will generate annoyance and that may cause stress”.
He said complaints were not inevitable.
“People will complain more if there is more noise.”
But he added the level of complaint:
“It depends on how people are treated and the perceived need for the development”
Nathalie Lieven said the level of complaint could be related to issues other than noise. These could include the unpopularity of fracking by some in Lancashire.
Dr McKenzie said:
“It [the Preston New Road] may generate more complaints because of the nature of the industry but is that a reason to to dismiss the complaints?”
Questions from Cuadrilla
Cuadrilla’s barrister, Nathalie Lieven, begins to question Dr Andrew McKenzie.
She put it to Dr McKenzie that fracturing would take place for only three hours a day, not in the evenings or at night and not on Sundays.
“The argument is about the decibel limit at night”, Ms Lieven said.
“I have arguments with his [Dr Hiller – Cuadrila’s noise witness] approach”, Dr McKenzie said.
Ms Lieven said planning policy required reasonable steps had to be taken to minimise noise impacts but planning balance had to be considered. She said there was a clear statement that adverse impacts can occur.
Dr McKenzie replied she was correct but it was a matter of how adverse.
Ms Lieven said how adverse the impact would be had to be measured by the level of adverse effect and the number of people affected.
“No guarantee night noise can be achieved”
Andrew McKenzie, for Lancashire County Council, said: There is no guarantee that the predicted night time noise limit of 42 decibels would be achieved.
Dr McKenzie said the predicted noise limit could vary by plus or minus 3 decibels. He said:
“Cuadrilla’s noise witness had left uncertainty to chance”
“They can’t guarantee to meet any noise limits that might be appropriate on this site.”
That is reason for refusal, Dr McKenzie said.
” Inadequate” noise data
Andrew McKenzie, for Lancashire County Council, told the inquiry he was “rather surprised” by the duration of the surveys carried out for Preston New Road scheme. They only addressed one hour (Arup) and one night (Jacobs). Dr McKenzie said:
“I thought this was inadequate given the ease with which they [noise surveys] are routinely carried out for projects that are likely to have a noise impact”.
He questioned the predicted night noise level of 42 decibel level on what he described as a “very restricted” data set.
Dr McKenzie said he had analysed at other noise data presented to the inquiry and found that for most nights noise levels to around 20 decibels. The proposed noise limit at 42 decibels was considerably above background levels.
He found that for 82% of the night-time the proposed 42 decibel limit exceeded the background level. For 62% of the time it is more than 5 decibels above the background level. For 41% it was greater than 10 db and for 20% it was greater than 15db
Dr McKenzie said he also looked at core night-time periods when people were most likely to be asleep. This found that for 92% of time, background levels would be exceeded. For 79% it is greater than 5db. For 57% it was greater than 10 db and for 30% it was greater than 15db.
Continuous night-time noise for 8 months
Cuadrilla said the World Health Organisation night noise guidelines were not appropriate to Preston New Road because they dealt with chronic (long-lasting) noise.
Andrew McKenzie, for Lancashire County Council, said the noise levels proposed at Preston New Road would occur for 40 months and initially continuously for eight months. Whether or not the WHO guidelines should apply, he said, the key issue was that the noise would be chronic for the people who were exposed to it. “Their night-time will be dominated by the drilling that is proposed for eight months”, he said.
The WHO aimed to set a night-time limit of 30 decibels, Dr McKenzie. Cuadrilla’s noise witness had argued that the guidelines set the limit at 42 decibels. Dr McKenzie described the idea of not attempting to reduce the noise below 42 decibels was “not a very attractive proposal from him”.
Webcast now working
Planning policy on noise
Dr McKenzie said the noise guidance for England aimed to prevent disturbance to local people.
He added that planning practice guidance on noise also recognised that noise perception was subjective. So its impact depend on a combination of factors.
Cuadrilla had used the British Standard BS5228 for the sites in its environmental statements. Dr McKenzie said he was surprised that Cuadrilla had put a great deal of weight in the standard. It wasn’t planning policy, he said. He questioned whether it was relevant because it applied to construction sites. Dr McKenzie said drilling for hydrocarbons was not covered by the standard. “I fail to see the relevance of BS5228”.
Alan Evans, the barrister for Lancashire County Council, asked Dr McKenzie about Cuadrilla’s view that a noise limit of 42 decibels was appropriate.
Dr McKenzie said the guidance was clear on limits to be applied. At night, noise limits should be set to a minimum to avoid unacceptable impacts without imposing an unreasonable burden on the operator. Dr McKenzie said 42 decibels was the maximum limit. This flies in the face of planning policy, he said.
Dr McKenzie said minerals policy required a reduction below the 42 decibel maximum limit and this complied with overall planning policy. To dismiss audible differences is not in line with planning policies, he said.
“Preston New Road fracking could be refused on noise grounds”
Dr Andrew McKenzie begins to give evidence on the impact of noise from the proposed Preston New Road fracking site.
Dr McKenzie said the Preston New Road development would have unacceptable noise impacts on local residents and could be refused because it did not comply with the Lancashire Minerals Plan and the Fylde Local Plan.
He said he found Cuadrilla’s noise assessment lacked in certain areas for both Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. He said the main concerns were noise from day-time fracking and night-time drilling.
The limits applied to neighbouring properties would not necessarily prevent noise at night, he said. This could result in sleep disturbance and health impacts. If night-time noise limits breached the limits little more could be done because Cuadrilla said further sound reduction would be an unreasonable burden.
Dr McKenzie said if the Preston New Road site were permitted the lowest noise limits that could be achieved could cause annoyance and sleep disturbance at neighbouring properties.
The inquiry is told that the webcast is not working this morning.