Updates from Day 5 of the reopened public inquiry on Cuadrilla’s plans to drill and frack at Roseacre Wood in Lancashire.
Today’s session, at Blackpool Football Club, will hear from witnesses from Roseacre Awareness Group, which opposes Cuadrilla’s revised plans to manage lorry deliveries to the site. The plans include two additional lorry routes, 39 passing places and new traffic signals. The cross-examination of Lancashire County Council’s highways expert will also continue.
Check here for key points from today’s hearing
- Weeks of peak traffic flow to Roseacre Wood scheme have risen from 12 to 18 weeks since the 2016 inquiry
- Roads around Roseacre Wood are not suitable for Cuadrilla heavy goods vehicles, Lancashire’s traffic expert says
- 90% of respondents to a Roseacre Awareness Group survey were concerned about Cuadrilla’s plans
- Lancashire County Council says proposed driving training for Cuadrilla lorry drivers could make things worse
- Lancashire County Council concedes some passing places have enough visibility but maintains its position that some are inadequate
- Cuadrilla says many roads on the lorry routes are wide enough for HGVs to pass if they use the verge
- Lancashire County Council says the use of verges should not be promoted – they are for drainage and refuges for pedestrians and cyclists
- Cuadrilla says the inquiry is about highway safety only. Lancashire’s traffic witness says it is also about suitability of the route
- Lancashire County Council’s traffic witness says he has never seen horse riders on any of the three proposed routes
- Roseacre Awareness Group says Cuadrilla under-represented vulnerable road users in its traffic counts
6.10pm Hearing adjourns
The inquiry resumes at 10am for an informal discussion of conditions.
Inspector’s questions for Roseacre Awareness Group
The inspector, Melvyn Middleton, reviews the evidence with Barbara Richardson, chair of Roseacre Awareness Group.
6.06pm Bus routes
Mr Middleton asks about bus routes that coincide with traffic routes
Mr Middleton says it is the most serious incidents that are a consideration for the inquiry. Mrs Richardson says the change in HGVs on the road could result in more accidents.
Cuadrilla’s questions for Roseacre Awareness Group
Natalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla (left), cross-examines Barbara Richardson for Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG)
5.54pm Horse riders
Ms Lieven says only two horse riders were counted by Vectos. Mrs Richardson says the witness statements of horse riders should be given credence.
Ms Lieven says horse riding is likely to be higher at the weekend. She confirms confirms there will be no HGVs at all to Roseacre Wood at weekends, except in an emergency.
Mrs Richardson says equestrians use the roads during the week in the school holidays. There are also lots of retired people who ride in the week.
Ms Lieven refers to the Elswick Equestrian Centre. She suggests riders can avoid the traffic routes. Mrs Richardson says it is not possible to do a circular route avoiding the proposed traffic routes. Ms Lieven says it is possible for this stables to avoid the Cuadrilla. Mrs Richardson says that is not what happens now. Other riding stables have no choice about using the three proposed routes, she says. Elswick Equestrian Centre is already hacking on a route with HGVs, Ms Lieven says. Mrs Richardson says the HGVs are not the type or volume of HGVs that Cuadrilla proposes to introduces.
Ms Lieven says there have been no accidents in the past five years. Mrs Richardson says people will be speaking about accidents with horses. She adds that Cuadrilla driver will not be used to rural roads or driving alongside horses.
Ms Lieven says there will be a benefit to cyclists on Dagger Road. No HGVs will meet on Dagger Road with the Cuadrilla scheme, she says. At present that is theoretically possible now, she adds.
Mrs Richardson says it will still be intimidating for people to meet HGVs or to have HGVs queuing up behind traffic lights. Mrs Richardson say the passing places create more of an issue.
Ms Lieven says Cuadrilla will pay for the repair of existing potholes and crumbling edges of narrow roads. These are a problem for cyclists, she says. Not as much as an HGV, says Mrs Richardson.
Ms Lieven says a scheme to repair the roads before Cuadrilla starts would benefit cyclists. Not if we have additional HGV traffic meeting those vulnerable road users.
Alan Evans, for the County Council, asks where the commitment came to repair the potholes. Ms Lieven says the commitment was not limited to flooding in passing places. Ms Lieven says the suggestion on potholes was hypothetical.
Mrs Richardson says if Cuadrilla repaired the pothole no one would objected. But she says she would rather not meet an articulated lorry as a cyclists, potholes or not.
5.27pm Vulnerable road users
Ms Lieven says RAG criticised the lack of data on pedestrians in Elswick. There is a footway through Elswick, Ms Lieven says.
Ms Lieven refers to local statements about the Hand and Dagger junction. The Boys Brigade warden was most concerned about walking on Carr Lane which is not on or adjacent to the traffic route. Mrs Richardson says the boys do walk to the Hand and Dagger. Ms Lieven says the witness statement has no concern about walking to the canal near the Hand and Dagger. Mrs Richardson says he provided the witness statement to prove that the facilities were used.
Ms Lieven suggests that a photo of a canoe club using the canal was taken outside working hours. Mrs Richardson says the photo was to demonstrate use of the lanes at all times. Ms Lieven says:
“You have not provided evidence of vulnerable users on the lanes during the day during the week.”
Ms Lieven says children waiting for the bus on the verge photographed by RAG would not be impacted because Cuadrilla heavy goods vehicles would not be on the red route before 9am.
Mrs Richardson says there are witness statements and photographs to show how the roads are used by residents. This is why there is concern by the parish councils and residents. We would not have got this amount of evidence if there were not concerns.
Ms Lieven says she is trying to establish how valid are the concerns. She refers to a witness statement of a dog walker but no Cuadrilla vehicles will not go down the route she talks about, Ms Lieven says. Mrs Richardson says the writer is trying to emphasise her concern when she meets an HGV and displacement of traffic.
5.18pm Traffic survey
Ms Lieven puts it to Mrs Richardson that RAG had been invited in June 2017 to comment on the camera points for the traffic survey and did not respond.
Mrs Richardson says people interpreted the letter as a fait accompli, that the camera points had been chosen and already agreed. Mrs Richardson adds that RAG was not aware that Cuadrilla was considering alternative routes at that point. The new routes were not revealed until November 2017.
Ms Lieven says: “It was obvious that we were considering a route between the A585 and Roseacre”. Laughter from the audience. Mrs Richardson says she doesn’t agree but she would have expected cameras in Roseacre village.
Ms Lieven says the only count was by Cuadrilla’s consultant, Vectos. Mrs Richardson says RAG and the parish councils did not have the resources to do this.
Ms Lieven says RAG could have carried out its own survey. Mrs Richardson says if RAG had infinite resources it would have loved to have done a full survey. Looking at the figures, to me and the parish councils, we feel the vulnerable user figures are under-estimates.
Ms Lieven says Cuadrilla did the counts at the points it said it would. She puts it to Mrs Richardson that RAG never asked Cuadrilla to do a count in Roseacre.
Mrs Richardson says when the counts were released, we realised there was something wrong with the data. Then we put in place the surveys. I can’t see what else we could do, she says.
Roseacre Awareness Group evidence
Ben Du Feu , for Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) (right) introduces Barbara Richardson, chair of the organisation. Mrs Richardson has lived in the area for eight years and moved to benefit from the strong local community. The group has compiled evidence of communities, local facilities and how they re linked and affected by the road network.
5.16pm Road network
Mrs Richardson says the reason the parish councils have come together is the recognition that the road network is crucial to local communities. She says she can’t see any difference from the findings at the last inquiry on vulnerable road users.
5.11pm Accident data
Mrs Richardson says there are many unreported accidents on the rural road network. I have personally witnessed five or six, Mrs Richardson says. We know there are many more minor accidents on the network as the roads are now. RAG has collected witness statements and evidence from the county council’s traffic consultation, Mrs Richardson says. These include testimony of near-misses and minor accidents.
She asks the inspector to take account of the community’s fear if these
5.10pm Recreational value of the area
Mrs Richardson says RAG has listed all the sports clubs on the lanes and the events taking place. There are 70 different types of sports clubs, including triathletes, angling, running, cycling and walking events.
There are lots of events in the area. She says there is a show ground on Dagger Road, on the Blue Route, for week-long events in the summer. This generates a lot of pedestrian use of the roads.
4.55pm Horse riders
Mrs Richardson says RAG has compiled details of 99 stables and livery yards in the area, which use the lanes for hacking out. There are stables on all the traffic routes, including one in the traffic control area on Dagger Road, on the Blue Route.
Owners of stables have made statements to the inquiry, Mrs Richardson says. She questions Cuadrilla’s evidence on the number of horse riders on the route.
One owner has 20 liveries and a riding school that uses the lanes for hacking out. There have been minor incidents, she says, and one horse had to be put down after an accident. Another family cannot avoid using Preston Road on the Red Route to exercise horses.
Mrs Richardson says Cuadrilla has tried to contact Elswick Equestrian Centre but no information on the routes they used was made available. She says RAG contacted all the local riding schools and stables. We used local knowledge and delved a lot deeper to establish the facts, she says.
There is equestrian usage on these roads, Mrs Richardson says. These are the most vulnerable users, she adds.
Mrs Richardson gives evidence that Lancashire Police have concerns about the use of Roseacre Road by cyclists. She adds that the police were also concerned about the state of local roads and the hazards for cyclists if there are additional heavy goods vehicles.
Two national cycleways cross the route, Mrs Richardson says. RAG has listed all the cycling clubs that use the lanes and the number of people in the clubs, along with cycle events on the network. It is a mid-week activity, Mrs Richardson says. Many of the events are big attractions and encourage people to cycle the routes in the week.
Several cycle clubs have sent statements to the inquiry about their concerns about the safety of the roads if the development went ahead, Mrs Richardson says.
4.47pm Public rights of way
Mrs Richardson says RAG has compiled details of the 17 local public rights and where they intersect with the three trafficroutes, often where there are no pavements.
4.37pm Residents’ statements
Mrs Richardson says people submitted statements to RAG to forward to the inquiry inspector.
One woman says she takes her children to the Hand and Dagger pub and walks down Dagger Road. The Cuadrilla plan would ruin many people’s past-times, she says.
One family walk their dogs on Higham Side Lane, down to Salwick Lane and along Dagger Road. They said they were forced onto grass verges by cars.
A family that raises puppies for Guide Dogs for Blind walks the dogs several times a day, every day. If the development goes ahead, the family says it would have to reconsider doing this.
Mr Du Feu says RAG’s case is that Cuadrilla has under-represented the use of the network by vulnerable road users. RAG is not arguing that the cameras did not count accurately but it challenged the location of the cameras. There was no camera, for example, between Elswick and Inskip, Mr Du Feu says.
Mrs Richardson says she cycles to Elswick village, which was not recorded. She passes horse riders and cyclists while driving round the roads. Because of the location of the cameras, the Cuadrilla’s survey did not take account of the use of the roads.
4.33pm Hazardous locations
Mrs Richardson gives details of places on the proposed routes where there is a potential hazard from additional heavy goods vehicles. These include
- Hand and Dagger pub is where people park to visit the pub or canal, including
- Elswick High Street where people congregate to catch buses
- Roseacre Road used by horse riders and disabilities scooters on a section of road with no pavement
- Dagger Road and Crossmoor are used to move farm animals
Mrs Richardson says RAG wanted to assess how the rural road network is used by the communities. With seven parish councils, RAG carried out a survey of residents and how they used local roads. Mrs Richardson says the key finding was to establish how often people use the road network. The findings were, she says:
- Over 90% of respondents had concerns about Cuadrilla’s traffic plans.
- Over 60% use the roads for commuting to work
- 28-45% of residents are dog walkers who use the lanes mid-week
- About 25% cycle the lanes
- 1-7% of residents are horse riders using lanes on weekdays
4.15pm Local evidence
Mrs Richardson says RAG has submitted evidence that identifies the communities, local facilities and how they are linked and affected by the road network.
As an example, she says children walk and cycle to bus stops to get to schools in the area. On Roseacre Road, on Cuadrilla’s Green Route, children are picked up from the side of the road.
In another document, RAG has identified local businesses, Mrs Richard says., including the impacts of the traffic routes on the business. She says for example, farms are listed along with the routes they currently use. A lot of people walk, cycle or drive to a farm shop, she says. HGVs using that route will affect this business.
Mrs Richardson says this an area heavily used for recreation and leisure purpose. We know the roads are used by cyclists and visitors who visit the businesses.
People come from across the area and beyond to visit Bond’s Ice Cream parlour in Elswick, established in 1947. Mrs Richardson says people will be driving along the new Red and Green Routes, who would not previously been impacted.
The inspector, Melvyn Middleton, says the Secretary of State had said he was minded to grant permission if Cuadrilla could prove the routes would be delivered safely. Mrs Richardson says there are more businesses on the Green and Red Routes that will be affected by proposal.
Mrs Richardson says another document identifies vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, horse riders and walkers.
4.10pm Process of gathering evidence
Ms Richardson says RAG spoke to the seven newly affected town and parish councils from the two additional routes. RAG is speaking for them and in agreement with them, she says.
4.05pm Remit of the inquiry
Before RAG’s evidence, the inspector, Melvyn Middleton, says his remit is highway safety issues. But he acknowledges the two new routes were not before the previous inquiry. On the original, now Blue Route, he says he will report only on highway safety. On the new routes, Green and Red Routes, Mr Middleton says he will hear evidence on impacts if they were greater than put before the the previous inquiry on the Blue Route.
Mr Middleton says he will report the impacts on the new routes. But he advises Roseacre Awareness Group to write to the Secretary of State on the impact of these routes.
Inspector’s questions of Lancashire traffic witness
The inspector, Melvyn Middleton, questions Neil Stevens, for Lancashire County Council.
4.01pm Dagger Road traffic signals
Mr Middleton asks if the signals are in the best place. Yes, says Mr Stevens.
4pm Working on hedges
Mr Middleton asks if there are policies on distance of working with hedges. Mr Stevens says “hedges are a black art”.
Mr Middleton says he is concerned about what happens if the hedges die. Mr Stevens says he is not aware of any policy. The purpose of the verge is to separate the hedge and the carriageway.
3.58pm Non-recorded accidents
Mr Middleton says non-recorded accidents are not necessarily serious. Mr Stevens says the network is fairly safe and there are very few accidents, some of which are not recorded. He says with the changes in HGVs, “we cannot expect that trend to rise”.
“The number of accidents can only rise”.
3.50pm Passing places
Mr Middleton asks what distance does a driver need to see beyond passing places.
Mr Stevens says the decision-making distance is the distance before the passing point a driver is approaching. Because the lanes are narrow and winded and people are not aware of the network, he says drivers need to be able to see beyond the passing place they are aiming for. The passing places are not always visible, Mr Stevens says.
Mr Middleton asks if the passing places are the best that can be done. Mr Stevens says the passing places can be lengthened but it the problem remains with the width of the road. There have been subtle changes over the past few days, he says. But the corridor is not suitable, he says.
Mr Middleton asks if it fundamentally more than moving passing places. Mr Stevens says “I question the suitability of the corridor”.
“On a plan you can see the passing places. You could increase the number of passing places. The issue remains the same. You cannot always see those passing places. The principle remains these routes are not suitable.”
The inquiry resumes at 3.45pm
Lancashire reviews traffic evidence
Alan Evans, for Lancashire County Council (right), re-examines the evidence of Neil Stevens, the council’s highways witness.
3.26pm Preston New Road experience
Mr Stevens says there is no easy read across from the experience of applying the traffic management plan for Preston New Road to Roseacre Wood.
Mr Evans asks about the Lancashire Police concerns over protests on narrow country lanes at Roseacre Wood. Mr Stevens says the police have similar to concerns to myself. They have highlighted protests on narrow lanes across three routes. There is no pavement near the site or along much of the routes, he says.
Mr Stevens the look-out site for Preston New Road has not been used. He says the protesters will have to make their legal protest in the highway, where there is a risk of conflict with heavy goods vehicles.
3.22pm Design standards
Mr Evans asks whether design standards are applicable to the proposed traffic routes. Mr Stevens says the council uses the design manual which sets out the standards for road design. He confirms it is the only standard that can be applied.
The inspector, Melvyn Middleton, says one of the extracts specifically refers to rural roads. Mr Lieven says the guidance refers to all trunk roads.
3.20pm Suitable roads
Mr Evans asks about comments made by Mr Stevens about the suitability of the road network for Cuadrilla’s site traffic.
Mr Stevens confirms he is asking the inspector to look at the suitability of the roads. HGVs will have to break harshly before crawling past each other, he says. For vehicles following them there is the possibility of a rear-end shunt, he says.
3.15pm Hand and Dagger junction
Mr Evans asks Mr Stevens about the staggered junction at the Hand and Dagger Pub.
Mr Evans puts a scenario to Mr Stevens about a Cuadrilla driver who was going south down Dagger Road had been instructed to stop at the junction with Treales Road, as part of the education programme. If another vehicle was driving in the opposite direction out of Station Road, what would be the result.
Mr Stevens says the Cuadrilla driver would have to reverse in Dagger Road. The Cuadrilla training would make things worse, he says.
3.13pm Impact of passing places on hedges
Cuadrilla had said if a hedge was damaged by creating passing places it could be replanted.
Mr Evans asks whether a hedge could be re-planted only on highway land. Mr Stevens says this work would have to go onto third party land. They are not the county’s hedges, he says. In delivering these works, there will be an issue if the hedges are damaged by highway works, he says.
3.02pm Flooding and drainage
Mr Evans asks about concerns of flooding of passing places. Mr Stevens says if there is a flooding problem now there will be problems in future, unless there big step changes. We don’t have that step change, he says.
Cuadrilla has promoted the idea of permeable asphalt to deal with flooding of passing places. Mr Stevens acknowledges he doesn’t have experience of using this product. But he says it would not work for short passing places. He says it would block rapidly and would need regular cleaning. The council does not have the specialist equipment, he says.
Cuadrilla has said it would do anything to overcome flooding problems, at whatever cost. Mr Stevens says highway solutions will come at a cost, which could be significant.
2.57pm Accident data
Mr Evans says there has been no recorded accidents involving heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). He asks about future likelihood of future accidents.
Mr Stevens accepts there is not currently an accident issue. But he says when you are increasing the number of HGVs on these routes along narrow sections, even with passing places, the probability of their being an accidents can only increase. He says the combination of HGVs with other vehicles needs to be taken into account.
Mr Evans asks what policy was taken by the last inspector on accident data. Mr Stevens says the issue of accidents was debated. A cautious approach was taken then using some of the same accident data, he says.
“This should be taken here. You cannot rely on historic data. You have to consider that these HGVs will be increased for a period of six years.”
2.56pm Passing places
Mr Evans asks what does the passing places about Cuadrilla’s route. Mr Stevens says it recognises the deficiencies in the road widths.
“It clearly acknowledges that without these passing places being able to work the scheme cannot progress”
2.50pm Traffic numbers
Mr Evans puts it to Mr Stevens, on the best case scenario, the traffic numbers would be 93 (18 weeks) days with 40-50 heavy goods vehicle journeys and 125 days (43 weeks) with 25-39 HGVs.
At the last inquiry, the peak vehicle movements were predicted to be over 12 weeks, Mr Evans suggests. Mr Stevens says we are facing a larger number of HGV movements now.
Cuadrilla continues to question the council’s traffic expert
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, continues her cross-examination of Lancashire County Council’s highways officer, Neil Stevens.
2.38pm Traffic management plan
Ms Lieven describes the traffic management plan (TMP) as an “iterative process”. The Preston New Road TMP did not take account of the level of protest, she says. Much has been learned about the process of handling protests, she says.
Mr Stevens says the Roseacre Wood site is much more complex, with three routes and narrow lanes.
Cuadrilla has evolved an extremely sophisticated logistics team, Ms Lieven says. Mr Stevens agrees. But he says the proposed TMP for Roseacre Wood is long list of suggestions. He asks whether some of the suggestions, single on paper, are questionable about whether they can be deliverable in reality.
“Will new drivers know the location of the passing places or how to navigate these roads. Will it happen in reality for all the drivers to cycle the route.
“I don’t think you can make it good enough.”
Ms Lieven says the number of banksmen can be written into the TMP. You could require ever driver to watch the video of the route for every contract. You can get a high level of likelihood on very specific points. This is all do-able stuff, she says.
Mr Stevens says the delivery of TMPs “rarely satisfies its purpose”.
Ms Lieven says ANPR cameras can monitor every registered vehicle using the routes. Mr Stevens says all the information will be post-event. It is reactive, he says.
“If there was a very solution now it would be on the table now. But I don’t think there is one.”
2.34pm Police attitude to protests at Roseacre Wood
Ms Lieven refers to a police letter to the county council. on the Roseacre Wood proposal. The letter says potential impacts of protest activity needs to be reflected in a traffic management plan.
Ms Lieven asks Mr Stevens whether he agrees. Mr Stevens says the statement is reasonable. But he says it is important that a traffic management plan can be adhered to. At Preston New Road there have been difficulties in delivering the traffic management plan. For Roseacre Wood, it would be more complex, he says.
Deliberate parking of cars in passing places, would be a matter for the police, Ms Lieven says. Mr Stevens says the police can resolve the obstruction but it takes time to overcome the consequences of the obstruction.
Ms Lieven says the county council can go to the magistrates court for breaches of the TMP and face a substantial fine. Mr Stevens says he doesn’t know whether it is a substantial fine or not.
Ms Lieven puts it to Mr Stevens that it is impossible to know what the level of protest may be but it was important to plan for a level of Preston New Road, Cuadrilla’s other site. Mr Stevens agrees.
Ms Lieven says the protests have been successfully managed and no-one hurt while Cuadrilla’s operations have continued. Mr Stevens says management has limited the level of risk. But he says it has not been successful because there has been congestion and a a couple of rear-end shunts.
Ms Lieven says as far as highway safety has been successfully managed. Mr Stevens repeats there has been impact so he can’t say it is successful.
There have been no personal injury accidents related to protests at Preston New Road. Mr Stevens says there have been rear-end shunts. He accepts here have been no personal injury accidents. Congestion is not a highway safety issue, Ms Lieven says. Mr Stevens says on three routes will allow for greater opportunity for legal and illegal protest.
Ms Lieven suggests the three routes have an advantage proposal of one route. If protesters blocked one route then vehicles could use the alternatives. Mr Stevens says there is no a level of uncertainty on three corridors, regardless of protest. The impact is different, he says.
1.55pm Dagger Road traffic lights on the Blue Route
Cuadrilla proposes to add traffic controls on Dagger Road.
Ms Lieven puts it to Mr Stevens that people do not drive at hard speeds. Mr Stevens says the speed limit is higher than the average speeds. But he concedes that people do not drive at high speeds.
Ms Lieven turns to Moss Lane East, which joins Dagger Road between the proposed traffic signals. Ms Lieven says no HGVs, apart from agricultural vehicles, were unlikely to drive down Moss Lane East. Mr Stevens says it is not a direct route to villages.
Ms Lieven says it serves two properties (three people say in the audience). It has excellent visibility. There is no possibility of a vehicle turning from Moss Lane East into the path of an HGV that has permission to go through the traffic signals. Mr Stevens says “I would not say no possibility. I would say the chance is slim”.
The two sides disagree on the location of the traffic signals on the side of the road. Cuadrilla wants to put then at 450mm from the edge of the carriageway. This meets the requirement in the guidance, Ms Lievens says. Mr Stevens says there needs to be a reality check. The width of the road had to be considered, he says. The council wants the traffic signals to be 600mm from the edge of the carriageway. Cuadrilla has said an engineering solution could achieve 600m.
Ms Lieven proposes a cranked head to the signal post. She says there is no highway safety issue with a cranked head. Mr Stevens says there is an issue of hedge cutting.
Ms Lieven proposes that the guidelines that the council is using has no relevance to Dagger Road. Mr Stevens disagrees. Mr Stevens says there is no separate guidance for local roads. Ms Lieven says they don’t need to be designed the same as trunk roads because the speeds are different and space is needed for ducting alongside the road.
The inspector, Melvyn Middleton, says the guidance is for all-purpose roads. Ms Lieven says it is for higher speed roads than Dagger Road.
The council had been concerned that there would not be enough space for HGVs and a maintenance van. Ms Lieven says the signals would be turned off when they were being maintained. In this case the Blue Route would not be used. She says the traffic management plan would require the maintenance contractor to tell Cuadrilla not to use the Blue Route. Mr Stevens says this could be a way round this. Mr Stevens says the police will dictate to Cuadrilla when the vehicles will be sent. The police could send vehicles down the Blue Route when the signals were being maintained, he says.
The inquiry resumes at 1.45pm.
Cuadrilla questions the council’s traffic expert
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, cross-examines Lancashire County Council’s highways officer, Neil Stevens.
12.48pm Passing places on the Green Route
Ms Lieven suggests there are the most visibility issues on the Green Route. Your concern was that there should be adequate visibility in advance of a passing place to make a decision about whether to pull in, she suggests.
Mr Stevens says the key issue is decision-making distance between leaving a passing place to after the next one.
Ms Lieven says the critical point is the distance to the next passing place. Mr Stevens says the roads are narrow and winding and drivers won’t know where all the passing places. This is why drivers need to be able to see beyond the next passing place, he says.
Ms Lieven says HGVs will be looking forward to the next passing point. Mr Stevens says the need to look beyond to beyond the next passing point.
Ms Lieven says there will be Cuadrilla HGV drivers and local drivers on these roads. Mr Stevens says the additional HGV drivers will be unfamiliar with the routes. The level of risk will only go up with the additional vehicles on the roads. Ms Lieven says the familiarity with the roads comes down to the quality of driver education.
Ms Lieven says HGVs will be much more obvious than other cars. Mr Stevens says they are double the height of a car but he adds that HGVs may appear to be on different roads but they are actually on the same route coming towards you. Ms Lieven suggests;
“Let’s have a twinkling of reality. You are not going to be confused by other HGVs on other roads because there are no other roads”.
Mr Stevens accepts this.
Ms Lieven suggests that some passing places could be extended. Mr Stevens says this would be at the expense of the user of the verge.
Ms Lieven says it is not a safety issue if a wing mirror overhangs a hedge. Mr Stevens agrees wing mirrors could oversail the hedges. But he adds:
“The wing mirrors could be damaged. The sides of the vehicles could be damaged. Or there could be damage to the hedges.”
He says there’s a reason for separation for the protection of the hedge. Ms Lieven says the only concern for the inquiry is highway safety. She says pedestrian, horse rider and cyclist will have more than ample time to put themselves into a safe location. This is not going to be a high-speed manoeuvre, she says.
Mr Stevens it will be crawling speed. There is a high risk of the HGVs damaging each other. This inquiry is also about suitability of the route.
12.32pm Passing places on the Blue Route
Ms Lieven puts it to Mr Stevens that at passing place 5, there is enough space between the hedges for a lorry to come on to the verge if it misses the passing place. Mr Stevens says this is not the purpose of the verge.
There is no risk that any HGV is going to have to reverse if they miss the passing places, Ms Lieven says.
Technically what you say is not wrong, Mr Stevens says. But the manoeuvre requires more distance, he says.
Ms Lieven says there are only disagreements on visibility between passing places at two locations on the Blue Route. Mr Stevens says there is a likelihood that large HGVs will have to reverse leading to risk.
12.29pm Junction of Salwick Road and Inskip Road, Blue Route
Ms Lieven puts it Mr Stevens that there is good visibility for HGV drivers at this junction. Mr Stevens says a bend influences what can be seen. He says car drivers going east-bound may not see an HGV coming round the bend.
12.09pm Hand and Dagger junction on the Blue Route
Ms Lieven says the concern at this point is that HGVs could meet at this staggered junction between Dagger Road, Treales Road and Station Road. It is accepted that the an HGV would need to cross on the opposite carriageway at Treales Road, Ms Lieven says.
Mr Stevens says this is one of the highway safety issues. He says there is a risk that both vehicles want to use the Treales Road section of the junction.
Ms Lieven says the key issues are visibility and speed. She says visibility is very good. Mr Stevens it is good on the western section. He says on the eastern side of Treales Road, the bridge restricts visibility.
Ms Lieven says for two vehicles to use the Treales Road section at the same would require “some precise choreography”. Mr Stevens says the concern is where drivers did not know the network. Ms Lieven says you will see the vehicle approaching. Mr Stevens replies “it will still not stop them starting that manoeuvre.
Ms Lieven says drivers will be educated about the junction and told to wait. There is laughter from the audience. Mr Stevens says a lot of reliance is placed on driver education. Drivers may change, he says. There is a level of risk that the information is not given to new or contract drivers.
Ms Lieven says the level of risk can be reduced by education. Mr Stevens replies
“A great level of weight is put on driver training”
The worst that would happen would be one HVG having to reverse, Ms Lieven says. Mr Stevens says this is a risk on a route widely used by cyclists.
12.07pm Horse riders
Ms Lieven says Cuadrilla’s consultants recorded two horse riders. She asks Mr Stevens whether he has observed low numbers. He says on all my site visits he has not seen any horses on the three routes.
County council questions on site visit
Alan Evans, for Lancashire County Council, says the council’s expert, Neil Stevens, visited passing places with Cuadrilla’s representatives yesterday to look at proposed passing places. Mr Evans questions Mr Stevens about a document submitted this morning on the visit’s conclusions.
11.57am Traffic signals on Dagger Road
Mr Evans asks about a diagram on the measurements at the stop point at proposed traffic signals.
Mr Stevens says the verge of 2.1m is already below standard and is being reduced to 1.33m. Verges are important because they allow for drainage and separate the carriageway from the hedge, he says. It is an area that should be free from risk that could occasionally be used by pedestrians and cyclists, Mr Stevens adds. This is now being reduced. The road width is only 6m, a narrow verge. It is very difficult for this to operate safely, he says.
11.48am Visibility summary
Mr Stevens confirms to the inspector that there are satisfactory decision-making distances between some passing places. But he maintains that drivers need to be able to see beyond the passing place to the next one.
Mr Stevens says without this it relies on drivers knowing where the next passing places are.
The inspector, Melvyn Middleton, puts it to him: “if you can see to the next passing place does it really matter?” Whoever gets there first will go to the passing place and the other driver will pass, Mr Middleton says.
Mr Stevens says if drivers don’t know where the passing places are then there is a risk that a vehicle will have to reverse.
Mr Middleton suggests that the passing places will be marked by bollards. Mr Stevens says not all can be marked. Some are just a short widening in the road, where a bollard would not fit, he says. Drivers will not know where the passing places are.
11.34am Visibility between passing places on the Green Route
Mr Stevens tells the inquiry he is satisfied that passing place 1 can be delivered if there is extra widening. But he says there is inadequate decision-making distance between passing places 2 and 3 and passing places 4 and 5. Visibility is poor at these locations, he says.
Mr Stevens adds there are also problems between passing places 8 and 9. This is a blind bend in both directions, he says. There are also difficulties with delivering these passing places and for drivers to make the manoeuvres. Even if the passing places are extended there will still be visibility problems, Mr Stevens says. Mr Stevens confirms to the inspector the passing places are not acceptable. It would need drivers to have their wing mirrors touching the hedges, he says, and for the hedges to be constantly be maintained.
Turning to passing places 12-14, Mr Stevens says visibility is satisfactory here apart from the impact of one tree.
11.33am Trailer overhang at Darby Arms junction
Mr Stevens has conceded that the overhang on the junction at the Darby Arms would not be significant from a safety perspective.
11.29am Hedges on the Lodge Lane S-bend
Mr Stevens says the hedge height in this section of the red route had grown since 2009 and were less maintained than others in the area. On the site visit, he says the hedge heights were measured at 3-3.5m on one side and 1.5m on the other. The growth of these hedges has had an impact on the visibility, he says.
11.17am Red Route passing places
Mr Stevens accepts there is visibility between the proposed passing places 2 and 3 for heavy goods vehicle drivers. He adds there is sufficient distance for an HGV driver to stop at passing place 5. But a proposed area of hard-standing on this route does not provide enough distance for two HGVs to pass.
Mr Stevens confirms there are no outstanding problems with visibility from one passing point to the next on the red route. But he says drivers should be able to see the same distance beyond the passing place they are looking at to full control the decision-making process. Drivers also need to know where the passing places are and some are difficult to find, he says.
11.07am Blue Route passing places
Mr Stevens concedes that following the site visit he has no concerns about one passing place on the proposed blue route for heavy goods vehicles. Another two passing places were still unacceptable because of tree and hedge heights and road width, Mr Stevens says. This meant there would be insufficient decision time, he says.
11.03am Forward visibility
Mr Stevens said the site visit looked at forward visibility between passing places and what could be achieved to improve this . He said the exercise had used heights to assess visibility of 2.1m for a heavy goods vehicles and 1.6m for a van driver.
The inquiry will resume at 11am to allow the council and Roseacre Awareness Group to look at the Cuadrilla note on passing places and visibility.
10.10am Inquiry progress
The inspector, Melvyn Middleton, says 85 people who want to give evidence and the list is growing. He says the inquiry relates only to traffic safety and third party evidence must back up their comments on this. The more people who want to talk, the less time they will have to make their case, he says.
Mr Middleton says he wants to finish next Wednesday (25 April 2018). He asks for a meeting with Cuadrilla, the council and Roseacre Awareness Group to schedule the inquiry.
10.02am New notes
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, submits notes on the company’s data on vulnerable road users and its draft environmental permit for Preston New Road.
Ms Lieven says experts from Cuadrilla and the council met yesterday to look at the company’s proposed passing places and traffic signals. Cuadrilla has written a note, which has not been seen by most participants at the inquiry, she says. She asks for a 30 minute adjournment.
Alan Evans submits a diagram about the Dagger Road traffic signals. He agrees that Neil Stevens, the council’s highway witness should explain this and the note on passing places.
Mr Evans said the council had drawn up a note on breaches of the traffic management plan at Preston New Road, what he called “departures from preferred methods of working”.
Ben Du Feu, for the Roseacre Awareness Group, says his clients were not party to the discussions and had not seen the note. It reserved the right to look in detail and comment later.
10am Hearing begins
The inquiry inspector, Melvyn Middleton, opens the second week.
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 1
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 2
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 3
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 4
Reporting from this inquiry has been made possible by individual donations to DrillOrDrop