Neil Stevens, a highways officer for Lancashire County Council, told the inquiry today:
“The [Roseacre Wood] site is remote from the major road network. Safe and suitable access cannot be achieved by the Traffic Management Plan. The increase in traffic, particularly from heavy goods vehicles, would be severe and would have an unacceptable impact on local road users, particularly vulnerable users, leading to risks to highway safety. The development should be refused on transport grounds.”
These are the key points from today’s hearing on traffic to Roseacre Wood:
- Passing places may not be the solution
Cuadrilla proposes to create five passing places to allow HGVs to pass side by side on Dagger Road, the narrowest part of the lorry route to Roseacre Wood. Mr Stevens said there was “huge operational weakness” in this plan. He said drivers would need to see that two passing places were free before entering the first. In places that view would be obscured by trees and dips in the road. He said he had “huge concerns” there was no solution to this section of the HGV route. Mr Stevens said the passing places risked making the roads more, not less dangerous.
- Breach of traffic condition only known after it happens
Cuadrilla has accepted a condition setting a maximum of 50 HGV movements at Roseacre Wood each day. This would be monitored by traffic logs. But Lancashire County Council said any breach of the condition would become known only after it had happened.
- More lorries means more accidents
Mr Stevens said increased numbers of HGVs would increase the probability of accidents. But he said the peaks and troughs in HGV numbers at Roseacre Wood would make it hard for road users to adapt because they wouldn’t know what to expect. Cuadrilla’s barrister dismissed this argument.
- Roads unsuitable
Mr Stevens said the rural roads were not built or maintained for the weight of vehicles that would visit the site. Lorries would need to mount verges or cross centre lines leading to conflicts with cyclists.
- Traffic levels under-estimates
Mr Stevens said he thought the traffic generated by Roseacre Wood would be greater than Cuadrilla had indicated.
- Inskip route uncertain
Cuadrilla proposes to use a route through the Inskip defence site during the highest traffic flows. Mr Stevens said no legal agreement had been signed and Cuadrilla had produced no plans for road design, security, waiting areas or safe entrances and exits to the site.
- Traffic Management Plan not in Cuadrilla’s control
The Traffic Management Plan determines the route that heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) should take, their speed and the behaviour of HGV drivers. Mr Stevens said it was not in Cuadrilla’s power to control these issues.
- Short hedges
Cuadrilla relied on hedges being 1m high to allow HGV drivers to see along Dagger Road on the route to Roseacre Wood. Mr Stevens said the height varied and depended on the landowner cutting the hedges. It could not be enforced.
- No control over layby
Cuadrilla proposes to use a layby to control the flow of HGVs to Roseacre Wood. Mr Stevens said the company could not stop direct action protests at the layby or prevent members of the public parking there.
- Driver education won’t solve problems
Cuadrilla described how there would be training days for drivers delivering to Roseacre Wood. Mr Stevens said driver education would not overcome problems for cyclists and horse riders using the traffic route.