Tuesday, 22 January 2019

An Even Worse Toxin!

Just when we thought PM2.5 (particles having a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers - about 3% the diameter of a human hair - was the most serous pollutant amongst those caused by traffic, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (1) have classified 1,3-Butadiene as even worse.

1,3-Butadiene (2) is a toxic gas that originates from several combustion sources including exhaust-pipe emissions from motor vehicles, heating, and also industrial activities such as plastic and rubber.
Unfortunately it's widely used in the production of synthetic rubber used in tyres, so even if it was possible to eliminate toxic exhaust emissions, then some method has also to be found to capture the small particles thrown off tyres during the wearing process.

While https://blissair.com/what-is-pm-2-5.htm is a helpful resource on the health issues relating to PM 2.5, some commentators now question the 24 hour method of measurement. They hold the view that even the daily commute over a working week along a traffic laden road when pollution levels are at their peek, present a greater health risk impact  than the official daily 24 hour measurement. Likewise the official measurement of 1,3-Butadiene is also of concern.

Whatever the ins and outs how measurements are done, the fact remains the only safe level for these toxins on people is zero, with the way to that is removal of as much traffic as possible from residential areas.

So what is the government plan to achieve that goal? Well just this week they announced five local authorities are to be ‘ordered’ to explore the need for Clean Air Zone’s (CAZs). Other measures announced are plans for councils to shift the focus towards prevention rather than only just tackling air pollution when limits are surpassed.

Whilst some money will come to cash strapped local authorities from central government, Martin Tett environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said councils must be backed with extra funding and powers if the local authorities are to play their part.
As usual time will tell but this old cynic has heard all this before and is confident this latest plan will only join all the others, now cobwebbed and forgotten. Unless of course people demand action is taken now!

Friday, 21 December 2018

A27 plans in meltdown

In a shock announcement Highways England not only have put an indefinite brake on the Worthing – Lancing improvement and been forced into an embarrassing rethink of their Arundel preferred scheme. They have now scrapped the latest plans to rescue Chichester from motorgeddon.

Reporting the Highways England decision, the Chichester Observer said:
‘People living to the north of Chichester understandably do not want a massive bypass built through their exceptionally precious rural environment on the fringes of the national park. In the south of the district, however, residents are vigorously opposed to any streamlining of the existing route that would remove entrances and exits leaving them effectively abandoned and isolated.’

However given the seriousness of the A27 situation you would think local authorities would put on hold plans to build new housing in south Sussex that is not self sufficient has no public transport service and is only accessible by car. But nothing of the sort has been considered, infrastructure can wait just build and build more houses is the call echoing through the corridors of power.

This dire issue was recently highlighted in the national press, with the publication ‘Transport for New Homes’ (see) recently visiting a major development in Durrington Nr Worthing. Whether it was due to an enlightened planning department or luck but local campaigners were able to input the idea of sustainability into it.
However to be blunt whatever happens to the A27 one thing is clear – No matter how much new road is built only investment in better public transport will help solve gridlock.

Monday, 17 December 2018

Have Your Say!

Its not often you get the opportunity to decide how the town you live in will look in 15 years time – well if you’re quick that time has arrived.
The Draft Worthing Local Plan consultation is your chance to tell planners what you think of their ideas on how your town will evolve over next decade or two. It also welcomes how some of your ideas may be incorporated.
Don’t be put off by the deadline for comments as from past experience comments are accepted well after the posted cut-off date – but don’t leave posting to long.
As sustainable transport is our thing, we are grateful to Sustrans the cycling charity for allowing us to publish here: the submission they have deposited. Of course there is no need for you to submit such a professional work, all that’s needed is something in your own words as the Local Plan documents explain here: 
There is much to be concerned about within the Plan so don’t be afraid to speak your mind.
If you are interested in transport issues this is also recommended.

Friday, 10 August 2018

A27: What’s going on?

Between Chichester and Polegate in East Sussex there are 4 major schemes scheduled to start in the RIS 1 period of 2015-20. All four have had public consultations, they are:
Scheme rejected by the community and subsequently cancelled by Highways England (HE). The community are now holding meetings in the hope their preferred scheme, when decided, will go forward into RIS 2.
Are waiting results of their consultation held in 2017.  In the meantime Leave has been sort by two parties for a Judicial Review due to believed errors in the consultation, environmental and value for money issues.
Are still waiting for results of their consultation held during summer 2017 despite being given a date of early 2018 by HE. Correspondence recently received from HE has given conflicting messages on scheme progress see (iii) below.
Following the public consultation in 2016 an announcement of the preferred route was made summer 2017
Highways England has now said they will carry out surveys and investigations to allow them design the scheme in more detail ahead of a further round of consultation in 2018. However in an effort to convince decision makers that bigger roads are not the answer, a copy of the New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast, reviewed in the post below, has been presented to Eastbourne MP, Stephen Lloyd.

So time moves on but progress seems to be bogged down with rumours that if schemes are not started before 2020 they will fail the RIS1 deadline. Clearly if it was just the A27 corridor schemes that faced delay it could be put down to pressure of work etc, but scheme delays are reported to be nationwide.
There appears to be several reasons for this, not in any particular order they are.
(i) Public concern that this or that proposed scheme will cause damage to the environment, make pollution worse and create more traffic anyway.
(ii) When Highways England forward matters to government for decisions they are delayed.
(iii) Confusion in HE departments.

An example of (iii) is the large amount of correspondence between a senior HE manager and a trusted correspondent we know.
From the details we have been given, home owners in a slip-road just east of the Manor roundabout in Lancing have been contacted by HE for permission to undertake surveying work in their gardens. This has raised concerns of Compulsory Purchase.
The HE manager in question confirmed permission was requested as they needed to do survey’s along both sides of the A27 Worthing-Lancing corridor for topographical, environmental and air/noise pollution reasons.
The manager went on to say that the department of Transport has not announced whether the scheme tabled last year, or a larger scheme will be planned for this upgrade.
When asked if the New Monks Farm (NMF) (IKEA etc) planning approval indecision would affect the scheme. He replied they had redeveloped the scheme to take in all the issues and objections made this time last year. Also they had taken into account the impacts of the NMF including IKEA (which they failed to do last year).
Surprising then he was unaware that, if NMF was approved, then the developer’s scheme for the Manor Roundabout would be implemented with a contribution of £640,000 from that developer!
When asked what would happen if the result of last years consultation was rejected by government following the local MP’s visit to SofS Chris Grayling. And secondly would an alternative scheme be scheduled for the RIS2 budget period with work to be completed before 2025.
He said no. It would be later than that because RIS 2 is already planned.

However while writing this piece our source has sent details of a letter just received from HE who now states, between reassuring words that compulsory purchase of property would not be necessary, that a decision on the scheme will be announced within the next 2 months.

So apart from the conflicting messages sent out by senior staff and HE HQ we think it’s clear to all those who have an in-depth knowledge of the long history of this section of the A27 and the long list of failed attempts to do anything, that a road based scheme on its own is not the answer.
Until government understand mobility is not achieved by car alone but by an integrated system of foot, bike, bus, train etc and yes the car, can south Sussex move forward.

PS. For those campaigning for a northern Worthing-Lancing bypass, surely with all the extra surveying work taking place that option looks even more unlikely.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Outdated Transport Planning will fail Future Generations

Car obsessed transport planning will not provide a thriving and healthy economy in Sussex according to the report ‘A New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast’ out today (19 April) [1].
This report, compiled by transport consultancy ITP [2], calls for a more inclusive and integrated approach to transport. It claims that a coordinated rethink could ease congestion in the county and cut car usage by more than 10%.
The findings, published this morning by the South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment (SCATE) [3], challenge existing road plans, such as those for the A27 corridor. The report calls for smarter solutions that work for everyone, in particular for the young, old and disabled, not just people who have access to a car.
Drawing on research by the University of the West of England, the study shows that road building is not the key to economic growth. Evidence shows that increased road capacity simply generates more traffic and creates new hotspots for congestion and poor air quality.

“This is so important for young people” says Chairman of CPRE Sussex, David Johnson.

“They are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and will have to cope with the impact of climate change.” The report shows a marked decrease in the number of young people holding a driving licence since 1990. “We should be welcoming and building on that trend. Young people deserve proper transport choices to be able to fulfil their potential”.

The wide range of measures proposed include improved facilities for cycling and walking; enhanced rail and road based public transport; and demand management measures to improve the flow of people, rather than cars.

And Becky Reynold from Bricycles, the the Brighton and Hove Cycling Campaign, agrees;

 “More space for cycling and safer cycle routes would provide a far better and healthier transport option [4] than more roads for motor vehicles. When cycling and walking are teamed up with good public transport, there is rarely a need for a car. The focus of planning needs to shift away from road building, especially as we are on the brink of a revolution in the use of new technology and data for transport purposes”

The report looks forward to a transport revolution as technology and data change the way transport is provided and used. 
"We need progressive transport strategies that better meet the future needs of local people and visitors” says Stephen Joseph, CEO of Campaign for Better Transport. “Evidence shows that towns and cities that significantly reduce their car dependency become thriving, attractive places to live, work and visit.”

[1]  The full report can be seen online. (3.4Mb file)  There are a series of local launches being planned for at later dates:
·        Saturday, 21 April, doors open at 10am for 10:30am- 12:30pm local launch at Lewes Town Hall.  Book a place on Eventbrite.
·        Friday, 4 May, 2 – 3:30pm, Bassil Shippam Centre, Tozer Way, Chichester, PO19 7LG.  Book a place on Eventbrite
·        Thursday, 17 May, 7.30pm, local launch at Arundel Town Hall.
[2]  Integrated Transport Planning (ITP) teamed up with the University of the West of England to produce the report for SCATE.
[3]  South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment (SCATE) is a network of over 30 local organisations and businesses.

[4]  “The best way to take pressure off the NHS is to give everyone active, healthy transport choices”, says Sustrans. “If this country hits its targets to increase walking and cycling, more than 12,000 premature deaths from air pollution would be prevented. If we reach Danish levels of cycling, it would save the NHS £17billion within 20 years.”

Sunday, 25 February 2018

So What Do You Think?

With the result of the consultation held by Highways England last summer into various congestion busting schemes for sections of the A27 expected at any time, the letters page of the local press has sprung to life with numerous bizarre suggestions’ on how to solve traffic chaos.
Our present favourite is the plan by a reader of the Worthing Herald for ‘Having a flyover right through Worthing’. See:
The plan it seems is to build a new section of A27 above the existing road, a sort of double deck road starting at Offington roundabout and returning to earth east of Lyons Farm. A distance of some 1.8 miles.
The advantage of such a scheme the author suggests would ‘allow the through traffic to travel at up to 60mph’. It is also suggested ‘Faster moving traffic causes less air pollution’.
Unfortunately the author omits any design features such as how many lanes the upper deck would have or how emergency vehicles would gain access in the event of a collision. There is however a suggestion that such a scheme ‘avoids encroaching on anyone’s land’ giving the impression there’s no emergency exit for 1.8 miles.
So what do you think reader’s. Ok then I’ll start things off. How would you like 60mph traffic whizzing pass your property at about bedroom height? But I’m sure the Editor at letters@worthingherald.co.uk would prefer to hear from you rather than us.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Not So Small Print

For those following the Facebook group ‘Future of the A27’ you will have seen the comments regarding the Options that were out for consultation on Arundel and the recommendation for approval of 5A by the various councils involved. But I wonder just how closely people have studied the data Highways England (HE) and their consultants’ have produced.
For instance, the glee by some that 5A will solve Arundel’s grief is not borne out by the traffic data. Yes there will be a temporary reduction in traffic along the route that presently goes through part of Arundel town. However those who took the trouble to look at the consultation brochure would have seen on page 24 the traffic flow by 2041 is expected to be 38,200, and that is only 800 vehicles short of the 5A by-pass design capacity. See: http://www.standardsforhighways.co.uk/ha/standards/dmrb/vol5/section1/ta4697.pdf
Deeper study of traffic data confirms traffic flow at present on the A27 between Fontwell and the Arundel A284 roundabout is already over 27000 and if capacity improvement schemes at Chichester and Worthing were now in place the figure of 35000 would be most likely.
The report presented by WSCC Officers to the Environmental and Community Services Select Committee in September was concerned that the piecemeal approach of designing each of the A27 scheme in isolation to each other, might not pick up the pent-up traffic demand. This clearly is illustrated by traffic diverting to other West/East routes to avoid Arundel etc such as the A259, A29, A283 etc. But more importantly, although unsubstantiated until HE releases the figures, 18% of traffic re-routing on to the A3M.
Whatever the ins and outs of the Arundel controversy one thing is clear, traffic is going to increase unless we get smarter on mobility. For sure if we don’t Arundel will be gridlocked even with a dual three lane Superhighway through the protected Sussex countryside.