Heavy lorries travelling to Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Roseacre Wood would have an unacceptable impact on road safety, the inquiry into the scheme heard today.
Tom Hastey, a transport expert acting for opponents of the plans, said there were 18 points on the proposed lorry route where major accidents were likely.
Mr Hastey, a former transport operations manager, said:
“I would have been unable to sanction these routes for the traffic proposed.”
“The use of the proposed routes by large articulated vehicles travelling to and from the appeal site is likely to result in unacceptable risks of accident at a number of points.”
“In terms of para 32 of the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework], I believe that the residual cumulative impacts of the appeal proposals on the safety of the proposed routes will be severe.”
The inquiry heard that Mr Hastey had carried out a risk assessment of the route for Roseacre Awareness Group. From this he concluded:
“The lorry route included 26 sections where the risk was unacceptable and 18 where there was a high probability of major accidents.”
Nathalie Lieven, barrister for Cuadrilla, questioned the methodology of the risk assessment. “There is nothing in your evidence about how you work out how likely an accident will be”, Ms Lieven said. “I have not broken it down”, Mr Hastey replied.
Horses and HGVs are an “accident waiting to happen”
Mr Hastey said the use of Dagger Lane by heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and horses was an “accident waiting to happen” and potentially a disaster.
In Cuadrilla’s transport management plan, HGV drivers were required to slow down for horses.
But Mr Hastey said when HGVs slowed down they emitted large amounts of exhaust from a vent as big as a drainpipe.
“The exhaust emissions will be powerful and hot. That hitting the horses legs will cause a disaster. That could happen every time a HGV passed a horse from the stable on Dagger Road.”
“If you can imagine a young girl on a horse on a Dagger Road, passing a juggernaut, and suddenly she gets a blast of exhaust. That horse is going to veer away sharply from the vehicle.”
The rider would struggle to control the horse, he said.
“The only place that rider can drop is under the wheels.”
“It is an accident waiting to happen. It is a very serious concern and one that I have been asked to raise.”
Treales Road/Dagger Road junction: “most dangerous section”
Mr Hastey described the junction of Treales Road and Dagger Road on the HGV route to Roseacre Wood as “arguably one of the most dangerous sections”.
He said lorries travelling from Roseacre Wood would have to cross the centre line of Treales Road when turning out of Dagger Road. This could result in a head-on conflict with other vehicles, he said.
Mr Hastey added:
“I have never seen a road where the camber is so severe as it is at the junction of Dagger Road and Treales Road”.
He warned there was a risk that a tanker could turn over if it was not full and the contents shifted during the manoeuvre.
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, said HGVs would slow down at the junction and this would reduce the risk of an accident. Mr Hastey said the HGVs were 16.5m and there would not be much room.
Ms Lieven said the drivers would be experienced and qualified. Mr Hastey said this didn’t stop them having an accident. The potential for a head-on conflict had to be a severe risk, he said.
Traffic management plan “superficial”
Cuadrilla’s traffic plan set requirements for the behaviour of drivers. Mr Hastey criticised the document, picking out the statement ‘On seeing a horse drivers will slowly decelerate and pass giving a wide berth.’
“I take the view that it is a superficial document.”
“Based on what I have seen, I do not consider that the Appellant [Cuadrilla] has fully grasped, let alone planned for, the hazards likely to be created by traffic generated by the development proposals.”
Cuadrilla safety audit “not comprehensive”
The inquiry heard the safety audit carried out for Cuadrilla of the proposed lorry route was based on a two-hour site visit and a desk study.
Mr Hastey said the site visit was not sufficient to assess the route and the desk study could not be comprehensive. He said the risk assessment should have been done on the route. He described the result as “unsuitable”.