The reopened public inquiry on Cuadrilla’s plans to drill and frack at Roseacre Wood in Lancashire reaches its final week.
Today’s session, at Blackpool Football Club, will hear from the last witness, Tom Hastey, the traffic safety witness for Roseacre Awareness Group. The group 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.
Today’s session is also expected hear more public statements. We’ll report this testimony in a separate post.
Key points from Day 8 first session
- Electric cables across the road on the MoD section of the route can be raised higher above the ground to accommodate large vehicles
- Cuadrilla estimate 75% of deliveries will be made by regular drivers
- An app will be provided for download to drivers’ phones, indicating routes and passing places
- The Inspector suggests there were some orchestration during the site visit on Friday with, for example, more parked cars in Elswick than usual. Ben Du Feu, for Roseacre Awareness Group, says they were not involved in any attempt to orchestrate the situation on the ground.
- Transport witness for Rag, Tom Hastey, says the main problems for lorry drivers are breaking road edges, rutting caused on verges, vehicles swinging into oncoming traffic or overlapping pavements, and insufficient width for large vehicles with mirrors to pass safely
2:45 Inquiry adjourned until 3 pm
The next session of the hearing will hear statements from members of the public. You can read updates of the statements by clicking here
2:28 Inspector comments on site visit
Dagger Road signals
The Inspector raises the issue of entrances to Dagger Road between the proposed traffic signals. He says Cuadrilla’s case is that people coming onto Dagger Road will see the HGVs on the main road and can react accordingly. Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, suggests that vehicles from a farm adjoining Dagger Road could be tagged so that if it joined Dagger Road from the farm, it would count as an HGV coming onto the system.
Thomas Hastey, for Roseacre Awareness Group, suggests that a contractor could be working on a series of fields between the traffic signals and join Dagger Road from multiple gateways. Mr Evans suggests the suggested solution would not pick up all vehicles joining Dagger Road. This is a risk factor which has not been addressed, he says.
The Inspector asks whether passing places would be clearly marked. Ms Lieven says bollards would cause problems at some passing places. She suggests that a phone app for Cuadrilla drivers could guide them to the passing places.
Alan Evans, for the council, says that bollards were originally intended to mark conventional passing places and would not be used to mark areas of road widening. He points out that the app would alert only Cuadrilla drivers to passing places.
The inspector at the 2016 inquiry described the effect of the scheme on road safety as severe. The current inspector, Melvyn Middleton, asks what this classification means in practice.
The inspector, Melvyn Middleton, asks what happens if one or two routes are considered acceptable by the Secretary of State but not the third. Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, says she thinks the development could be accepted on two routes, but it would be problematic on one route only.
Alan Evans says there would have to be a lot of unscrambling of the Traffic Management Plan, even with only two routes available.
14:20 Inspector’s questions RAG’s traffic witness
The Inspector asks Thomas Hastey, RAG’s traffic witness, to explain wheel configuration for larger lorries.
Mr Hastey says that large articulated lorries must now have air suspension to protect roads. The air suspension means there is no room for double wheels, which can cause problems as there is no inner wheel to take the weight if you go onto the verge.
The Inspector raises the issue of u-bolts holding the trailer to the tractor, which are only 27cm above the road surface. Mr Hastey explains that there is a problem with rutted verges because the bolts can then make contact with the road.
14:12 Re-examination of RAG’s traffic witness
Thomas Hastey agrees that his risk assessment methodology is similar to that laid out in one of the core documents submitted to the inquiry.
Cuadrilla’s questions for RAG’s traffic witness
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, cross-examines Thomas Hastey, the traffic witness for Roseacre Awareness Group
Detailed points on the traffic routes
14:00 Green route
Ms Lievens suggests there is good visibility at the junction in Elswick. Mr Hastey says it is not as good as suggested by the photograph. Ms Lievens says there are a lot of HGVs on the route at present, including 15 articulated vehicles over the course of 12 hours. Mr Hastey says vehicles are taking the corner, but not safely, as they cross the white line as they do.
13:40 Red route
Highamside Road/Inskip Road junction
Mr Hastey says drivers often sweep round the junction and may not have time to take evading action if it meets an HGV. Ms Lieven disputes this.
Mr Hastey queries whether tracking diagrams take full account of mirrors. He disputes there is good visibility on all sections of this road. He says the road is deceptive and looks wider than it is. Ms Lieven asks if he accepts that two vehicles will meet very slowly. Mr Hastey says he is concerned about conflict between the mirrors. A slight error of judgement will lead to a collision, he says.
Lodge Lane/Preston Road
Ms Lieven asks if there is any evidence of HGVs flipping over at this point. Mr Hastey says drivers treat the junction with extreme caution. There are also very few large HGVs on this part of the network, he says. Ms Lieven suggests there are six large HGVs per day.
1pm Blue Route
Salwick Road/Inskip Road
Ms Lieven says an HGV can turn into Salwick Road safely if there isn’t already an HGV waiting in Salwick Road. Mr Hastey disputes this, saying there is a 110 degree turn. Ms Lieven asks if the track diagrams are wrong. Mr Hastey says that as an experienced HGV driver, he would have great difficulty making the turn safely.
Ms Lieven says where an HGV does have to cross to the other carriageway, oncoming drivers will see the large vehicle and will slow down. Mr Hastey says the oncoming driver will not know which carriageway the HGV is in until too late.
Hand and Dagger junction
Ms Lieven says there is only a problem at this junction if there are HGVs coming from opposite directions. If not, the HGV can stay on the correct side of the road.
Mr Hastey says there is a risk of overturning because of the adverse camber.
Ms Lieven says there have been no accidents. Mr Hastey says the problem is the articulated vehicle, and this is currently rare in the area. Ms Lieven asks if it is inevitable that a class 10 vehicle would overturn. Mr Hastey says there is a strong possibility.
12:50 am Risk assessment methodology
Ms Lieven describes Mr Hastey’s methodology, where risks are assessed by severity of incident multiplied by likelihood. Ms Lieven asks where the guidance for this methodology comes from. Mr Hastey says he uses the scheme recommended by Lancashire County Council, and has used this for the last twenty years. Ms Lieven says there is no document in front of the inquiry that supports this methodology.
Ms Lieven says the speed of an accident is a critical consideration in severity of the accident. Mr Hastey says a 5 mph collision with a 44 tonne vehicle can be serious.
Ms Lieven asks where in the risk assessment for Roseacre Road has Mr Hastey referred to the actual speeds of vehicles. Mr Hastey says he has lived in the area for 40 years, and is aware of the speeds vehicles travel. Ms Lieven asks if Mr Hastey has read the baseline traffic conditions report. Mr Hastey says he has not read the report in full detail but is familiar with traffic conditions in the area.
Ms Lieven quotes findings of 33 mph for average speed of HGVs at Roseacre Road. Mr Hastey says he would dispute this figure.
Mr Hastey has suggested an accident at the A585 junction could have “catastrophic consequences”. Ms Lieven, for Cuadrilla, asks where Mr Hastey taken account of proposed junction improvements. Mr Hastey says they make no difference to the manoeuvres he has analysed.
On Mr Hastey’s risk assessment for the Roseacre Road site entrance, Ms Lieven asks where is the reference to the proposed banskman? She suggests that Mr Hastey has not taken account of Cuadrilla’s mitigations in his risk assessments. Mr Hastey says he has accepted there would be a banksman, as it is standard practice.
Ms Lieven refers to Dagger Road between the M55 and the Hand & Dagger pub. She quotes Mr Hastey’s assessment that there are no control measures in place. She says there is no mention of the proposed traffic signals. Mr Hastey accepts this, but says he carried out a risk assessment of the conditions in place.
Ms Lieven suggests that frequency of events determines likelihood of accident occurring. She asks where Mr Hastey has considered the frequency of vehicles meeting. Mr Hastey says there is no evidence of OGV-2 vehicles travelling on Dagger Road. Ms Lieven refers to baseline data showing there are 10 OGV-2 vehicle movements each day on Dagger Road. Mr Hastey says he would challenge those figures. He says he has only ever seen two articulated vehicles on Dagger Road, but has seen regular rigid vehicles.
Ms Lieven refers to the Hand & Dagger junction. She asks where Mr Hastey has referred in his risk assessment to accident data for this location. Mr Hastey says he hasn’t looked at the data.
Ms Lieven refers to a photo of an overturned lorry and asks where it is. Mr Hastey says it was taken at Tarleton, which is not on any of the proposed routes. He says he used it to show what happens when a vehicle goes to the edge of the road surface, which then fails.
12:45 pm Driver training
Ms Lieven asks about the training undertaken by a driver of a large vehicle. Mr Hastey says the driver needs to take five modules, of 7.5 hours each. Articulated vehicle drivers need Class 1 Licences. Ms Lieven says that drivers need to know how to reverse, use mirrors and so on. Mr Hastey agrees.
12:20 pm More evidence from RAG’s traffic witness
Thomas Hastey, the traffic witness for Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) continues giving evidence. RAG’s barrister, Ben Du Feu begins by asking him more about the Green Route
Double corner in Elswick
Mr Hastey describes a right turn, followed by a left turn for lorries travelling from Thistelton to Elswick. He says the driver has to swing out into the opposing carriageway to get round the second bend. Mr Hastey says he has witnessed this occurring many times. The problem is worse for an articulated vehicle as the tractor unit will need to swing out further, he says.
Mr Hastey says there is a 110 degree bend causing the trailer to swing out. The Inspector says Cuadrilla has agreed to meet conditions on this junction from Highways England. Mr Hastey says whatever works are done to the junction, an articulated vehicle will effectively have to jack-knife to get round.
Mr Du Feu asks what it would be like for a large articulated vehicle to navigate all the hazards Mr Hastey has described.
Mr Hastey says there are risks of:
- Breaking the road edge
- Vehicles running onto the verge
- Trailers swinging out
Every bend and every narrow road needed to be wider, he says.
12:05 pm Break
The inquiry breaks until 12.20pm
Evidence from Thomas Hastey
Ben Du Feu, for Roseacre Awareness Group, introduces Thomas Hastey, group’s traffic witness.
Mr Hastey describes his concerns about the three lorry routes in turn.
11:35 am Red Route
Highamside Road to Inskip
On this section, Mr Hastey says a lorry has to swing out and cross the white line to take a left turn.
To get out of a nearby passing place, a lorry will need to reverse, Mr Hastey says. Cars often take this junction at speed, he adds.
Mr Hastey says lorries will need 6.3m to pass. On one passing place, the total width is 6m, including the passing place, Mr Hastey says. He says Mr Bird has designed the passing place relying on the Manual for Streets, and has not taken account of the wing mirrors. Mr Hastey says there is a risk of two lorry mirrors hitting, particularly on straight narrow stretches, where vehicles could each be travelling at 40 mph.
Mr Hastey says an outbound driver will need to cross into the opposing lane to avoid colliding with the building on the bend. The trailer unit, taking the shortest route, will have to come very close to the small wall and building, he says.
(Inbound) The tractor unit has to slightly overlap the pavement, Mr Hastey says. The front nearside part of the trailer will protrude further onto the pavement, causing danger to any pedestrians, particularly children using playing fields, Mr Hastey says.Mr Du Feu asks about placing a mirror on the bend. Mr Hastey refers to comments from Mr Bird suggesting that the mirror is not necessary and need not be installed. Mr Hastey says the mirror is not a good idea. The mirror could be covered in frost, condensation and there is a risk of dazzle from the sun.
Lodge Lane/Preston Road
On one bend on this section, Mr Hastey says the trailer unit of lorries travelling outbound cross onto the opposing carriageway. He says the vehicle needs a snake-like manoeuvre to avoid conflict as it turns into Lodge Lane, and would need to take up both traffic lanes.
Inbound, a driver turning out of Lodge Lane has to be inch perfect to take the left-hand bend on the main road, Mr Hastey says. There is a steep verge on the left and if the trailer goes onto the verge, it could flip over.
Mr Hastey suggests it is not possible to use the adjacent passing place without going past and reversing into it. Mr Du Feu says Cuadrilla has shown how this can be done. This is highly unlikely, Mr Hastey says.
11.30 am Blue Route
Mr Hastey describes the bends and hills coming out of Molly’s Plantation and says the combination of right angle bends and rises and falls makes the road dangerous to drive.
Hand & Dagger junction
Mr Hastey challenges Mr Bird’s assertion that you can rely on the elevated position of the driver for visibility. He describes the route the tractor and trailer will follow, and says the trailer will cut across the road and will be leaning against the camber, a problem for trailers with a high centre of gravity.
Junction on Inskip Road
Mr Hastey expresses concern about the junction between Inskip Road and Salwick Road, and suggests there will be conflict between turning vehicles and other road users, particularly with articulated vehicles which will have to swing out into oncoming traffic.
11:00 am Running on road edges
On some parts of the routes, says Mr Hastey, the trailer width of a 44 ton articulated vehicle means that the wheels will have to run along the road edge, causing the road to fail, with parts of the road surface breaking off.
There are also places where a vehicle mirror will overlap a footpath when two vehicles meet. This applies on the road through Molly’s Plantation, he says.
Mr Hastey refers to photographs taken from inside a vehicle cab showing how the driver cannot clearly see pedestrians around a bend ahead because of the hedges, despite the driver being in an elevated position.
Mr Du Feu asks whether passing places will help. Mr Hastey says that because the trailer unit doesn’t follow the route of the tractor unit, you need more road width to complete manoeuvres without risk to other users.
10:50 am Driving on verges
Mr Du Feu, for Roseacre Awareness Group, asks about driving on verges. Tom Hastey, the traffic witness for RAG, says driving on the verge, particularly with a 44 ton vehicle, can damage the road edge. On a saturated verge, there is a risk that a vehicle could overturn. Repeated driving on the verge will cause deepening ruts, increasing risk of vehicle turnover, Mr Hastey says.
On an articulated lorry, the trailer is fixed to tractor unit by u-bolts, Mr Hastey says. These bolts are 27 cm above the road surface.
Natalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, objects to technical arguments being introduced at this stage. The Inspector says there has been no previous mention of the 27 cm measurement.
Mr Hastey refers to a photograph showing how a vehicle moving off the edge of the road can cause the road to fail. He says he is concerned that vehicles coming off the highway will cause a vehicle to roll over.
With a rigid vehicle, when the vehicle crosses onto the verge, the inner wheel will support the vehicle. With single tyres on a heavier articulated vehicle, this is not the case and the edge of the road can break.
10:30 am Articulated and rigid vehicles
Mr Hastey says he wants people to realise what it is like to drive an HGV-2 vehicle, by providing pictorial evidence. He went round the route last Friday evening with an HGV vehicle and driver, and photographed the lorry at various junctions, from both in front and behind the vehicle.
Mr Du Feu asks about how the weight of a vehicle controls its stopping distance. Mr Hastey says a heavier vehicle needs more time to stop. Heavier vehicles, Mr Hastey says, are more difficult to manouevre as they have a longer wheelbase.
Mr Hastey says people need to understand the size of the largest vehicles which are juggernauts, – 16.5 m long and over 3m wide including the mirrors.
Mr Hastey says an articulated unit is effectively two vehicles, a tractor unit and a trailer. Tractor and trailer may come from different companies. Articulated vehicles are more difficult to drive. When you take a bend, the tractor unit follows one route and the trailer follows another – the shortest route.
Blind spots on an articulated vehicle are different from rigid vehicles says Mr Hastey. As an articulated vehicle pivots, multiple mirrors on the driver’s door will give as much visibility as possible.
Mr Du Feu asks about reversing. Mr Hastey says reversing an articulated vehicle is extremely difficult and depends on the quality of the driver.
10:28 Site visit
The Inspector,Melvyn Middleton, says he drove or walked the routes twice on Friday.
The Inspector says a number of things were different last Friday from what he had seen previously, suggesting orchestration. In particular, he mentions the number of parked cars in Elswick, with five or six times as many parked cars on the route on Friday as during previous visits.
Mr du Feu, for Roseacre Awareness Group, says he wants to make it clear that RAG had absolutely no role in any orchestration for the site visit.
10:15 am Cuadrilla raises previous issues
Height restrictions at Inskip
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, refers to height restrictions at Inskip due to electrical cables. She says the MoD have given permission for cables to be raised where necessary.
Ms Lieven says 75% of deliveries to the site are predicted to be by regular suppliers.
Ms Lieven refers to a proposal in the Traffic Management Plan that there should be an app for drivers which they will need to download to their phones. The app will help guide drivers along the routes and indicate the location of passing places.
Ms Lieven refers to a passing place on the Green Route which went into private land. This has now been re-designed so this is no longer the case.
10:13 am Session begins
The inquiry inspector, Melvyn Middleton, opens Day 8 on the inquiry.
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 1
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 2
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 3
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 4
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 5
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 6
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 7