Cyclists’ lives at risk from Surrey oil site deliveries, campaign groups warn

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Vehicle on Coldharbour Lane, near Dorking, 21 June 2017. Photo: Dan Harvey

As cyclists prepare to take part in the Prudential 100 cycle event in Surrey, opponents of oil exploration near the Leith Hill beauty spot have warned of a serious risk to riders in future.

The competitors will be cycling on closed roads on Sunday (30 July) but local campaign groups, Leith Hill Action Group and Voice for Leith Hill, say in coming weeks part of the route will be shared with lorries up to 50ft long.

Europa Oil & Gas has planning permission for an exploratory oil well at Bury Hill Wood on the side of Leith Hill. A Traffic Management Scheme, required as condition of the consent, will be discussed by Surrey County Councillors on Wednesday (2 August 2017).

The Traffic Management Scheme (TMS) routes deliveries to the site along Coldharbour Lane, which in parts is narrow, winding, hilly and lined with steep banks. For much of its three miles it is too narrow for a single car to pass safely a single cyclist. It is classified as “Not suitable for HGVs” [heavy goods vehicles].

Leith Hill Action Group said:

“The TMS will put at risk the lives of the many thousands of amateur riders who use this route throughout the year.”

Surrey County Council has received 363 comments on the TMS – all of them objections. But council planning officers have recommended approval.  They concluded:

“It is considered that whilst this is a complex traffic management scheme, it is the only practical way of getting HGV vehicles to the site, given the constraints of the highway network.”

The officers have recommended no HGV deliveries on Saturdays. But campaigners remain concerned that the officers have removed recommendations made in a safety audit of the route.

The audit recommended:

“Advise escort vehicle drivers that they should stop if they encounter cyclists”

But planning officers have urged councillors to ignore this recommendation. In a report to next week’s meeting, they said:

“Officers are concerned that should an HGV be made to stop every time it encountered a cyclist on Coldharbour Lane … this could cause delay and also confusion to not only the HGV convoy but also any traffic behind the HGV convoy”.

Instead, officers propose that a card should be issued saying:

“Drivers should be aware and alert to cyclists travelling on Coldharbour Lane”.

Another recommendation of the safety audit was to:

“Provide signing specifically advising cyclists to wait for the signal to go.”

But officers have said:

“No specific signage is to be provided for cyclists waiting for the signal to go as it is considered that the proposal already involves a large number of signs and adding further signs that are specifically for cyclists may add confusion to motorists”.

  • Opponents of the scheme will demonstrating against the oil plans along the route of the Prudential 100 race from 9am on Sunday 30 July. Details
  • The planning committee meeting is on Wednesday 2 August at 10.30am, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN at 10.30. Details  and Agenda DrillOrDrop will be reporting from the meeting.

15 replies »

  1. As a keen cycler, and having been shoved into the footpath by a truck. The ignorant truck driver had the presence of mind to wave two fingers as he drove away. I narrowly avoided colliding with a walker, who helped me untangle from the bicycle.
    This danger must not be underestimated, there are no footpaths, bikers will get run over.
    Surrey need to be bought to task over this avoidence of responsibility.

    Incidentally I got the truck drivers number, and the walker was a witness, thanks to the police, who tracked him down, the driver failed the breath test and lost his job.

    [Comment corrected at poster’s request]

  2. Ban the cyclists. Riding along several abreast shouting at the top of their voices to “communicate” with each other. Far too much noise pollution for the oil drillers. And all that Lycra-goodness, the fossil fuel used to manufacture that! There is only so much oil in the Weald.

  3. Ha ha , cyclists may get knocked over . Grasping at straws somewhat isn’t it ? Cyclists can get knocked over anywhere at any time, not just be trucks carrying oil

    • Obviously Vernon does not live in a rural area, or understand how these lanes are used, nor does he seem to value what is precious, i.e. our countryside used by thousands for leisure and recreation purposes and not just cyclists but horse riders, walkers, joggers, families on days out. Rural lanes are more dangerous to road users than normal roads. Look it up. Adding thousands of 6 axle HGV’s movements (which any unconventional oil and gas production will create) into the mix is sheer stupidity; a fact which the Highways Officer, Planning Officer, Planning Inspector and our MP in Lancashire have acknowledged as well as the Landscape Institute and other bodies. Road safety is paramount. Who will be accountable when there is a serious or fatal accident? The driver, the haulage company, oil and gas company, local government or central government?

      • Interesting display of the “frack everyone” o£€$¥g imperative isn’t it?
        Vernon just alienated every cyclist in the country! Thanks Vernon! Keep it up!
        Clearly the industry frackquisition in projectile vomit mode.

  4. How many sea creature’s lives are at risk because of our dependence upon foreign oil being imported in ships?

    • Lorry drivers need to take care of themselves . Drive in a responsible way and be aware of road users .

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