“Road, rail and air transport noise is already impacting cardiovascular health”, says Slough as it demands HEx depot rethink
Slough Borough Council’s petition to Parliament to stop HS2 relocating a train depot to Langley, published today, is strongly critical of HS2’s approach, says the impact will be unbearable for residents, and will limit regeneration. But mostly the petition uses the cumulative impact of other developments in Colnbrook as reason for a rethink.
Slough Borough Council has today published its petition to Parliament calling for HS2’s relocation of the Heathrow Express depot to Langley to be put back on the drawing board. However, the Council is once again accused of double standards as it throws the kitchen sink at defending a disused yard it has failed to build on in over a decade, while using the devastation of Colnbrook – which it supports – as a means to justify why the HEx relocation should not happen.
Causing incredulity the Council has used the impact of the Third Runway – which it has promoted – and the appalling air quality at Brands Hill as the primary reasons why the development should not go ahead.
It also asks the HS2 Committee to consider the impact on physical and mental health of increased road, rail and air transport noise “with its impact on academic performance, quality of life and cardiovascular health being areas of particular concern”.
SBC says the process of selecting the Langley site has not been transparent and claims that HS2 has refused to respond to its “genuine concerns” or allow examination in public. It also says HS2 has failed to explain why alternative sites have been dismissed and made “no compelling case for relocation from one site to another in the public interest”.
In its petition to Parliament for changes to the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill (Additional Provisions) it says that construction and operational effects of the HEx Depot will have “a serious and detrimental impact on the inhabitants of the borough” and that “sufficient mitigation for those impacts are not presently proposed”. In particular it says noise, sound and vibration impacts from the HEx Depot on its residents will be unreasonable, causing significant annoyance during the day and potential sleep disturbance at night, both during the construction and operational phases of the scheme.
As expected, the petition also stresses the loss of potential housing on the site. However, the Council now claims that Network Rail and DB Schenker believe there is scope for substantially more than the 210 homes they previously proposed, and potentially up to 800.
It also cites the loss of £1.84 million per year in future Council Tax potential.
Whilst SBC is currently developing a Low Emission Strategy to tackle poor air quality, air quality levels are stagnating and have shown little sign of improvement over the last four years.
However, the petition appears to focus more on Colnbrook than Langley, and stresses the impact on Brands Hill in particular of other developments. It says:
- There are over 200 residential receptors (“homes“) within the Brands Hill/M4 corridor experiencing “significant breaches” of the National Air Quality Objectives for Nitrogen Dioxide, some at 110% or more of AQO level.
- A number of other projects proposed to take place within similar time frames and within a radius of 3 km of the HEx Depot, will impact further impact on the borough. These additional proposals are: Smart Motorways scheme (1.8 km away), the 3rd Runway at Heathrow (2.8 km away), Slough International Freight Exchange (SIFE) (2.5 km away) and WRLtH (in the immediate vicinity).
- The traffic impact assessment fails to take into account the cumulative effect of the Highways England M4 Smart Motorways scheme and the WRLtH scheme. Both these major infrastructure schemes are programmed to start on site in 2017 “with associated requirements for work compounds and construction traffic routes in the vicinity of the Langley site” (i.e. Sutton Lane).
Slough also expresses its concern that development of depot at Langley would conflict with delivery and possibly cause additional costs to the WRLtH scheme, something which HS2 disputes.
Your Petitioner is concerned about the direct effects of noise on the physical and mental wellbeing of local residents. Slough is already disproportionately affected by both noise and air pollution when compared to the rest of the South East region and to England as a whole.
In its petition Slough says that, compared to other local authorities, it has the third highest percentage of its population exposed to road, rail and air transport noise during the night and the 13th highest during the day.
It says: “The effects of noise on physical and mental health are well known, with its impact on academic performance, quality of life and cardiovascular health being areas of particular concern”.
Strangely, those same statistics were ignored by Cabinet when it adopted its position of support for a Colnbrook Runway.
Read the full petition for yourself here.