Very Low Noise Surface Consultation – Wendover HS2
IMPORTANT – this will affect your home
Do you want a tall and ugly fence or a quiet road surface?
Bucks County Council (BCC) are launching the long-awaited public consultation on options to reduce noise from the bypass, which will start with an exhibition be held in the Library Room on Friday 30th Nov (4pm-7pm) & Saturday 1st Dec (10am-2pm).
They want your views as residents – please make every effort to attend and vote for your preference using the response form that will be available. If you are unable to attend pick up a leaflet from the library or go to the following website buckscc.gov.uk/wendovernoise – you have until Friday 4th January to register your vote either on a response form or online.
Why you need to take action
Although nothing to do with the proposed HS2 train line itself this work will be funded by a £1.5m grant from HS2.
As part of the Parliamentary process when the HS2 Bill was being debated, HS2 Ltd. agreed to fund a 6’ / 2m barrier between the bypass and the existing Chiltern Line running for 1.7 km. BCC are responsible for this project hence they are carrying out the consultation. However BCC’s own experts determined that in order for a barrier to have any significant effect it would have to increase to be 4m / 13’ high – a doubling in height and one that will be an eyesore when viewed from the Coombe Hill direction.
A number of people in the village have objected to this idea and have identified that a Very Low Noise Surface (vLNS) on the by-pass would work better at reducing noise and will avoid the building of an eyesore next to the village and the AONB. Wendover HS2 Group have supported this work and have been involved in meetings with BCC and also conducted an online survey, in which 95% of those responding voted for a vLNS.
For both barriers and vLNS, BCC say that the budget will only cover maintenance for 20 years. Of course it is not possible to know whether after 20 years, additional money may be available for continued maintenance. However BCC have built in a whopping 45% contingency in arriving at their cost estimates so it is highly likely that the HS2 grant money will last considerably longer.
BCC are suggesting in their consultation materials that there are issues with the performance or durability of the vLNS solution. However we think these are not valid as vLNS is being used on much busier roads than the bypass. There has been some resistance from BCC to the idea of vLNS, however Highways England’s policy is to use Very Low Noise surfaces where houses are close to roads.
BCC’s own noise consultants estimate that the benefit of vLNS is much greater than barriers. We think the benefits of vLNS would be even better than they say as the methodology which they have used does not take into account of, for example, the effect of the prevailing wind off Coombe Hill which carries the bypass noise across much of Wendover and reduces the effectiveness of barriers; nor the fact that a barrier itself will reflect the sound of the Chiltern Line trains back into Wendover.
BCC are to include the above options in the consultation. They have also included an alternative low noise surface (LNS), though we do not recommend this because, despite it being slightly cheaper, it offers very little appreciable benefit as the BCC data shows.
The final decision will be very much driven by your views as residents – which is why it is very important that you should vote.
It’s your decision – but we would strongly urge you to vote for option 4 in the consultation – vLNS.
13’ / 4m Barrier
- Not as effective as a Very Low Noise Surface – fewer homes will see an improvement
- A target for vandals / graffiti artists
- A blot on the landscape next to the AONB (more than twice the height of the average person and just shorter than a London double decker bus!)
- BCC have not completed the promised landscape assessment envisaged when the barrier was offered
- Performance will be adversely affected by the wind that comes from the Coombe Hill direction – this has not been taken into account by BCC
- BCC have also not measured the detrimental effect of the sound of the Chiltern line trains that will be reflected back into the village by the 13’ high barrier
- BCC say that the barrier option will take longer to implement and is unlikely to happen before HS2 construction commences.
- Needs continued maintenance
- A report to the BCC Cabinet in July 2016 says ”The Council and its partners continue to lobby for an extended tunnel and, in parallel, BCC officers negotiate with HS2 officials to explore alternative options to the noise barriers.”
- More efficient at reducing noise – 786 homes will benefit – BCC say it offers the “greatest noise benefits overall”
- Nothing to see
- Quick to implement, no planning application required
- When the HS2 bill went through Parliament the Wendover Parish Council petitioned for: “The use of noise reducing tarmac on the roads most affected and those closest to residential and business properties.”
NB – do not confuse vLNS option 4 with the LNS option 3 – which has no appreciable benefit.
Please do get involved in the consultation – it affects you and the long term future of your home – not just when they build HS2
For more information please see our website https://tinyurl.com/noisebarrier which also has a link to the BCC consultation documents.
Published by Wendover HS2 Group November 2018