Options for Reducing Bypass Noise

In the April print edition Andrew Burnett wrote about the £1.5m provided through HS2 to mitigate noise from the A413 bypass. Currently Bucks County Council see the solution as a 4 metre (13 foot) high fence or noise barrier. There is however another alternative available that better meets the objective. Whatever solution is adopted will directly impact the quality of life of many Wendover residents for the next 40 years. Residents will surely want the best available option to be included in the BCC consultation expected shortly rather than the single “take it or leave it” option of a barrier.

There is clear evidence from an independent and specialist study commissioned by BCC last year that a Very Low Noise Surface (vLNS) is a much more effective alternative that will provide better noise reduction for five times more people in Wendover.

Going with noise barriers would be administratively simpler but according to the new evidence would not be as effective. Also barriers would be visually intrusive and there are concerns that prevailing wind off Coombe Hill would reduce barrier effectiveness and cause the perverse outcome of reflecting train noise from the Chiltern Line back towards Wendover (whereas the benefits of a low noise surface would be unaffected).

What are the objections to a low noise surface? Firstly it has been suggested that a low noise surface will be worn out prematurely by HS2 construction traffic and clogged by mud. However traffic (and HGV) volumes are much higher on another road where this surface is being used. Highways England regard mud as dangerous and require clear “haul” roads, reflected in HS2’s Code of Construction Practice. HS2 vehicles must be cleaned. Modern power washing equipment is very effective and, according to the HS2 contractor who spoke at the Parish Meeting, is already being used on vehicles coming from the Nash Lee Road mitigation site. It has also been suggested that HGV engine noise is not reduced but it is in fact included in the noise model which demonstrates vLNS provides the best outcomes.

Is an alternative feasible? Timing is tight but there is a window of opportunity before major HS2 works begin in Bucks. HS2 will consider a more effective option provided there is a strong case supported by Wendover in the forthcoming consultation. We strongly support BCC working up the vLNS option in addition to the barrier one so that residents can express their view on the best solution for Wendover. All the facts about available options need to be set out in the consultation document so residents can make an informed choice.

There is more information about the options at: https://tinyurl.com/noisebarrier.

Jenny Senior, John Mayhead, Dale Smith