Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Another letter to Mr. Shuker

15th June 2005
Dear Mr. Shuker,
Re: A120 Braintree to Marks Tey

I am again writing to you about the A120 Braintree to Marks Tey improvement scheme. I am very aware that the public consultation is drawing to a close and I have not yet had any answers to my latest correspondence. I am aware that you also have been off long term and am very concerned that the last letter and this letter will be brushed to one side and forgotten by your colleagues.

It has come to my attention that the planned route has apparently followed a set of criteria and that many of these have been met. I would like to dispute that the area of agricultural land being taken has been kept to a minimum. There is a perfectly good stretch of dual carriageway that is being made redundant by taking the southern route. It was stated at the initial public exhibition that this route was chosen to minimise costs. This surely must invalidate the criteria (xiv) and render it not met. The southern route will take in excess of 122 hectares of land of the other routes shown. The area under question falls within the Countryside stewardship agreement, however the proposed route seems to totally flout all the guidelines put down under this. Is this a case of the stewardship being nice, but until it becomes a nuisance it can be totally ignored? I have found that the entire proposal takes no consideration to the environment. There will be a massive loss of wildlife habitats, trees and hedgerows will be removed and above all rural land will be lost. By taking the southern route it appears to me that every chance has been taken to avoid using existing roads and plough straight through valuable land.

Living in the village of Cressing I would like to state that if the A120 were to be routed via Galley’s Roundabout I would find any disruption caused in the road works far preferable to not using the existing road and ploughing a new road straight through the countryside. I find that this excuse is incredibly poor and I am sure that other residents and road users will feel the same.

I do not feel comfortable that the affects of the road passing so close to the village of Cressing has been sufficiently examined. There have been to my knowledge no tests on the impact that the proposed A120 will have on local traffic. Cressing is currently a minor rat run I can only imagine that this scheme will exacerbate the problem. This will increase noise pollution and increase the likelihood of accidents on a road that is narrow and twisting. This is backed up by the fact that I was woken up at 4 am this morning by a car breaking the speed limit this morning and setting off the alarm of a car parked by my house. This will increase!

I am very concerned that the “green wedge” status of areas around Galleys corner is to be removed. I would like confirmation of this and also to discover what the benefits are of removing the Green status. Is it so that the rural community can be turned into an urban sprawl? I am also concerned that the road from Stansted to Braintree, although having been built as a dual carriageway has the capacity to be converted into three lanes. Is this the plan for the Braintree to Marks Tey stretch? Is it the plan that this road is going to be given motorway status in the future? Will this help the local economy? Or have all the results been taken from the benefits that this will have to the fast food chains on the round about? I cannot believe that this road will help the economy except by taking away people on a fast non-stopping road.

What tests have been run on the air pollution? How much extra in the way of fumes am I going to be breathing? I currently suffer from asthma and live in the countryside to minimise the affect of fumes. Is this road going to facilitate a worsening in my condition? Am I going to be forced to move away from an area that I love?

I am also distressed at finding that the report is inaccurate on many counts. There are omissions in heritage assessments, six historic buildings that will be compromised by the proposed road are simply not included.

I am also concerned by the issue of flood plains. There is a small river that runs through Cressing, there is the larger river Brain that runs through the valley. If the road is raised around Cressing what measures have been taken to ensure that the village does not succumb to flooding? It has been known in the past for water to cascade from the field to the north of Cressing and flood peoples houses. If the road is raised at this point it will be made far worse. Has this been taken into account? If measures are put in place here, where will the problem end up? Tye Green? Galley's corner. Could it be that the road is avoiding Galleys corner as this will become the new flood plain area? This will directly impact upon my house as it stands in the path of this flash flood area.

I am a musician. The village of Cressing has proved a perfect location for me to undertake these professional activities. A new road so close to my dwelling will severely impact on the ability to earn a decent wage from these activities. I am certain that there will be no compensation available to me under these circumstances. I am concerned that Cressing was omitted from the statistics shown in the report. In fact the village of Cressing seems to have been omitted from the process from start to finish, from the start by omitting to deliver the leaflets to full inclusion in the report. If this is not shown in the analysis of the results from this public consultation it must invalidate the results. I am concerned that it has been stated that the analysis of the result will not be published.

I await your reply to this and my previous letter eagerly.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Inspired by the Parish Council Meeting

2nd June 2005

Dear Mr. Shuker,
Re: A120 Braintree to Marks Tey

I am writing to you regarding some concerns that I have regarding the proposed scheme.

I attended the Parish Council meeting on the 31st May where a gentleman spoke on your behalf. I was greatly concerned by some discrepancies that came to light. The gentleman admitted to the possibility of not knowing all the answers to our questions. I would like to point out that if he did not know the answers then it was a pointless exercise sending him? He did however know the answers to most questions that were asked.

We were informed that a Highways Agency presence was not at the previous meeting due to the fact that the Highways Agency would not attend an unorganised meeting. On Tuesday night it was put forward that the reason for non-attendance had been because of the General Election. I find this very alarming that there should be two reasons and am left wondering if they are both unfounded excuses.

It also came to light that in the Bradwell meeting the attendees were informed that the information leaflet would not be handed out. At the Parish Council meeting it was said that they would be. I was astounded to hear that there are still people in the parish that have not received any literature from yourselves at all. It is no excuse to say, as your representative did on Tuesday night, that you do not know what has happened and that you are still investigating. The deadline for people to get their views in is hurriedly approaching and it appears that the Highways Agency have done their best to evade getting the information out. In light that there is a considerable proportion of residents to the area who have no received the literature I would like to ask the following question:

When the results of the public consultation period are analysed what is the proposed methodology and as a result of the literature not being delivered, if the required population sample is not reached will the questionnaire be redistributed and a further period of time granted for it’s return? Or will flawed results be allowed to stand? If the required percentage is received from other areas but not from Cressing will the data be left biased or will this be rectified?

I am absolutely appalled at this confusion in information, both in different stories from the HIghways Agency and in the lack of distribution of literature.

My next set of questions pertain to my last letter from the Highways Agency. It has come to my notice that there is going to be severe disruption to the footpaths in the area. I would like to know exactly what is planned for the Essex Way. According to the plans that I have seen there will be a severance of the path, can you confirm that this will have a bridge over the A120 to retain access?

It also says that there will be the loss of the underpass at Galley’s corner. Could I ask what the rational behind this is and what facilities will be given to aid the crossing of these very busy roads. I find the grading of the footpaths very worrying. It appears that someone has taken a cursory glance in the general direction of the footpath and made a judgement, thereby fulfilling the criteria for a grade 1 survey. (I believe I am correct in how detailed a grade 1 survey is!)

In your letter of response you mentioned that you were not able to quantify the impact of the new road upon the local roads, but that you expected the traffic to be eased by the new A120. As there is no planned entry or egress from the road in-between the A12 and Braintree, this must surely increase the traffic through villages as they will not be able to use the major road because it does not allow them on or off. Is it the HIghways agency proposition to guess whether or not there will be an impact or will proper research be carried out in this area?

In your letter you implied that the road level may be sunk around the village. Can you categorically state that it will or it won’t? Giving vague implied suggestions is not enough for the residents of the area to be able to respond properly. If you do not state what the plan is and then state that we were given ample opportunity respond, this is surely unmoral when we can’t respond to what is not given!

At the meeting on 31st May it was stated that the proposed route on the literature was not in fact a proposed route, but just one of a few. I would like to point out that it does say on the literature that the route is the “proposed route” and others were options considered, I would like to note the past tense on this. The other routes were considered and the proposed route considered the best. If this so called proposed route was not the final choice or even the preferred route, why was it publicised in this way? Is this surely not misleading? If this is not correct then perhaps the gentleman should have been better briefed.

At this point I am very disappointed by the information that has and has not been given. I have found the literature and the maps provided on my last request to have been certainly thorough, but also felt that it was given in this format to have been an attempt to confuse. I would like to know what methodology has been employed and in this study and the reasoning for not releasing the analysed results after this public consultation. Finally, will all comments from letters be included in the data, or will it be purely on the results of the questionnaire.

Thank you very much for your time.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Some more links...

A new google search brings up these sites:

I'll keep looking! PLease post any as you find them too!

Reply from Alan Hurst MP

25th February
Thank you for the copy of the letter you sent to the Highways Agency.

You are quite right to make strong representations. I am far from convinced that the Highways Agency has considered sufficient alternative routes. When I met with the Roads Minister some eighteen months ago there were up to thirteen routes under consideration.

This matter will surely end in a public enquiry. The stronger the representations are at this stage the better.

In particular the present proposed route is far too close to settlements at Tye Green, Lanham Green, Halfway at Kelvedon and parts of Feering. Further, the crossings of the environmentally sensitive Blackwater Valley is to be deplored.

Yours Sincerely
Alan Hurst MP for Braintree

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Reply from the Highways Agency...

15th February
Thank you for your letter of 9 February following your visit to our consultation exhibition. I am sorry that we appear to have let people down with the distribution problem and short notice. However, this is just the start of a long process and our two weekends of exhibitions have seen over 3000 visitors to them, an outstanding and welcome interest. we are also extending the consultation period to 17 June. We have also given an additional number of copies of the consultation document to Cressing parish council for their public meeinting of 1 March. We have also made it clear to the distribution company that they should fulfil their obligation to complete delivery.

I am afraid that the Highways Agency website is unable to hold documents great than 1Mb, because of the problems some customers might have with downloading files. Needless to say, we have pointed out to our corporate colleagues that this does not help us in delivering a service to our customers to get the right message across. I can only apologies.

You have asked for further information, and I enclose CD copies of our assessments which show how we havce arrived at the option put forward. These are the technical Appraisal Report and Environment Assessment Report and all the alternatives are assessed equally.

THe proposed southern route does pass close to Cressing and the alternatives are further away. We propose to keep local access open by putting in bridges for local roads, rights of way and farm access, so local journeys can be carried out as they are now, such as at Lanham Green Road. Whilst not being able to quantify it now, we expect that provision of the new A120 will make journeys easier and take away some of the rat running that goes on.

You have mentioned the vertical profile we show in the exhibition drawings. Please be reassured that this is an indicative profile showing a balance between material taken from cuttings and used in embankments, the result being minimal numbers of offsite lorry movements on local roads. Howeve, given the nature of the ground and the topography, it is feasible to sink the road into cutting through this area, disposing of surplus soil in a number of ways such as screen banks, or profiling of adjacent land with agreement of land owners. THe bridges for local roads would keep those road levels as they are now/.I am sorry if this indicative profile has caused concern.

On noise control we have a statutory duty under the Control of Pollution Acts to mitigate against noise throughout, and we would do this through screening and use of low noise road surface materials as well as insulation of individual properties. We have only shown a sample of illustrative measures, typical of what is used now on schemes, and as detailed design of a scheme is some years away, I would expect that some innovative measures would be used too.

The new road would not be lit, other than at any roundabouts put in as part of junction arrangements. This lighting would be fully cut off so that light spill would be kept to an absolute minimum, and again, this is subject where innovation is gathering pace, even to the extent that by the time detailed design comes about, tall lamp columns might be a think of the past.

I would hope that you and others will still be able to continue enjoying the various rights of way that we cross. It is our intention to provide bridges for these, either on their existing lines or by short diversions, outside the new A120 boundaries, to use side roads or farm access bridges.

On your final point, I am unable to give an answer on effect of house prices in Cressing, other than to say that should the scheme go ahead, compensation is available under the Land Compensation Act for blight and devaluation of value. I am afraid that these processes are not available until after the Secretary of State has announced the Preferred Route. This stage is not expected until next year as the A120 improvement is a regional scheme the priority of which has still to be determined by a new regional transport board yet to be set up to look at funding all road schemes and public transport initiatives in the region. I confirm too, that the Highways Agency is not involved in any way in facilitating infilling of development around the new road. However in due course should planning permissions be granted, we would need to be aware of them.

I appreciate that this is a long reply and trust that it gives you some reassurance and clarification. I will copy it to Alan Hurst MP along with your letter, and would be more than happy for you to circulate it to others too if you wish.

Yours sincerely
Chris Shuker
Project Leader

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Letter to the Highways Agency

Dear Sir,
Re: A120 Braintree to Marks Tey

I am writing regarding the plans for the new A120. I would like to make the following requests and complaints.

I wish firstly to complain about the lack of information that has been provided to the residents of Cressing. There was an exhibition scheduled for Saturday 5th February. This was advertised only 2 days before in a newspaper that I do not subscribe to. I would like to enquire when there will be a further exhibition to accommodate all the residents that could not attend the meeting above due to such short notice. It has come to light that there had been a distribution difficulty and the leaflets that should have been delivered to all residents did not reach their destination. A document has now been sent to me at my request. Will the residents that were not able to attend be sent the document by default or will they have to ask for one?

I have visited the Highways Agency website for more information on the proposed new route of the A120 and cannot find any accurate maps. The maps that are provided are extremely inaccurate approximations that do not show Cressing village. There is a copy available online from the thisisessex website, but not on the Highways Agency site, why is this?

I wish to have accurate and detailed information about all the potential routes and the reasons for choosing one route over another. Please could you send me details of the reasoning behind the chosen routes.

The small amount of information that I have managed to discover shows that the preferred route will fall with in half of a mile of Cressing Village. This also appears to be the only significant settlement within such close proximity to the proposed route. Why was a route not chosen to take the new road away from this settlement? This route will cut Lanham Green Road. What are the plans to retain access at this point to the junction. This road currently forms a cut through road from Silver End to Braintree, will there still be access or will the cut through be moved to the centre of the village. This will cause Cressing Village to be much busier and increase the risk of accidents. The motorists that currently use the road as a cut through break the speed limit by a significant amount and are a public nuisance, this will merely exacerbate the problem.

One fact that was listed on the maps in the exhibition, but not on the map that was sent to me, was the level of the road. The road is proposed to be sunk in many places, however where it passes Cressing Village it can be seen to be proposed to be raised. I am very perplexed as to the reasoning behind this. As the road is to be part of the European Network with in the region of 30,000 vehicles per day, why has it been decided to raise the road. This will create noise pollution for the village. The northern envelope of the village will be within sight of the new road. This is surely an unacceptable proposition. At the exhibition I was told that the reason for this was that the earth excavated from the area preceding Cressing was to be used in the road around Cressing, that it had to go somewhere and this was the most economical option. This is a very poor excuse and either the gentleman did not know the answer, in which case he should not have been at the exhibition or that it was assumed that the residents of Cressing would not mind being able to see and hear 30,000 cars per day passing within 800 yards. Please could you clarify this point for me.

What is the projected noise pollution that the village can be expected to gain from the road passing this close? What measures are proposed to be taken to keep this to a minimum. The plans that are available do not show any steps at baffling the road from the village. It is stated in the document that was sent to me that
”...will help to reduce the effects of noise and screen views from properties in the vicinity of the new dual carriageway. These measures will be illustrated at the exhibition.”
The exhibition showed that settlement of Cressing was not to receive any measures at all. I would appreciate an explanation of this.

I would like to ask about the street lighting. In Cressing we currently enjoy a minimum of light pollution, what street lights are going to be employed and how will this effect village?

Currently myself and my partner enjoy taking extended walks around the farmland of Cressing. We use many of the footpaths, as do many of the residents in the area. The proposed route will currently cut across 10 different public footpaths that I walk on a regular basis, all of these being within easy walking distance of my property. This includes a section of the long distance parth the Essex Way. Will access still be maintained to these footpaths?

I am aware of the need for this new road and am not opposed to it. I am however at a loss as to some of the reasons put forward as to the route any resulting pollutants (noise, light, exhaust emissions etc.) and seek clarification of all the questions that I have asked.

My final point is a query is how will this new road impact on the house prices in Cressing?

I would appreciate a speed reply to these questions as you can appreciate time is very short on this matter. I am sure I will have further questions in response to your reply. I will be sending copies of this letter to my local mp, parish council and various members of the press.

Yours in anticipation

News Links...

Here are as many news links as I can find:
Eastern Green Party
Essex Invest
East Anglian Daily Times
That's all for the moment, but I'll keep my eye out.
Next will be my letter that I am sending to them!

Welcome to the A120 Action Blog!

This blog has been set up to discuss and swap links about the proposed A120 route from Braintree to Marks Tey.
It may seem like we have ages (opening of the road in 2013) but we need to write and get our thoughts and complaints in by the 20th May. Not long!
So I shall post this and get hunting for some links!