Purpose of the report: To debate a County Council Motion which was referred to the Economic Prosperity, Environment and Highways Board for consideration.
Declarations of interest:
Cllr Hazel Watson (Mover of the Motion)
Cllr Stephen Cooksey (Motion Seconder)
Cllr Tim Hall, County Councillor
Mr Richard Bolton, Local Highways Services Group Manager
Key points raised during the discussion:
1. The following motion was referred to the Board for consideration.
'‘Council notes that when roads are surface dressed in order to prolong the life of roads by sealing them and to save money before a full resurfacing, the road surface becomes noisier for residents living nearby.
This Council requests the Cabinet to amend its policy to take into account not just cost but also the quality of life of residents, including noise levels of different road surfaces when deciding on different types of materials and processes for surface dressing or full road resurfacing.’
2. Cllr Watson made the following points in support of her motion:
· Highways laid a new road surface on a major road within her ward. After some years a preventative surface dressing scheme had caused a rise in noise level on the road.
· That it was wrong to subject local residents to that level of noise.
· That decisions on road surface treatments should be balanced on quality of life for residents as well as cost.
· That the Council should adopt a similar policy to Lincolnshire County Council and Surrey County Council should accept that what has happened has had a detrimental effect on the quality of life to residents.
3. The motion was formally seconded by Cllr Cooksey, who reserved his right to speak.
4. Tim Hall, a Member for an adjacent ward was granted permission to speak by the Chairman and made the following points in support of the motion:
· An example of ineffective road surface treatment was given by Mr Hall in relation to the Leatherhead Bypass; this was evidence that something had to be changed to current policy.
· That criterion was not correctly being followed and that the surface treatment used in Cllr Watson’s case was perhaps not the right solution for the area.
5. The Local Highways Services Group Manager made the following points:
· There were a number of prevention strategies in place and that one option was resurfacing.
· A newly laid road surface has a negative texture surface, whereas following preventative surface dressing a road has a positive texture surface, and a positive texture surface causes more road noise.
· The Highways industry has developed quieter road surfaces so the effects of road surface treatment makes the noise differential greater.
· Preventative surface dressing can lengthen the life of an asset considerably.
· A preventative scheme covers more surface area for cost compared to road resurfacing.
· There were a number of materials used for surface treatment and decisions were made on geography, traffic flow and the quality of the road. Some materials were unsuitable for certain roads due to traffic volumes or speeds.
· Engineers make assessments on noise, but decisions rely on officer judgement. There was no national guidance on noise levels for roads.
· Road surface specification will vary along a road depending on its layout, geography, traffic volume and speed.
6. Members of the Board including Mr Cooksey made the following points:
· Quality of life can be interpreted differently.
· There was no national guidance policy on treatment schemes.
· Highways should consider and implement the best road surfaces in the correct areas.
· Surrey’s roads are among the most heavily used roads in the Country.
· Inevitably some areas of road will run in the proximity of residents though it is unsuitable to change a road surface because residents live nearby to the detriment of safety.
· Quality of life is not fully considered and the motion asks for this to be considered alongside cost.
· Noise pollution can be stressful to residents.
· Highways engineers are trained professionals and the materials used are subject to extensive scientific testing before use. Engineers choose the best surface for the roads and do consider the noise impacts on residents.
7. The mover of the motion was given an opportunity to comment on the discussions that had taken place and urged the Board to support the motion.
8. The motion was then put to the vote by the Chairman with five Members voting for and eight Members voting against, though there was one abstention. Therefore the motion was lost.
a) That the outcome of the motion is reported back to County Council at its next meeting.
For the Chairman to report back on the outcome of the Motion at the next Council meeting.