Live updates: Day 6 Cuadrilla Roseacre Wood fracking inquiry – DRILL OR DROP?

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lorry on roseacre road 2

Lorry on one of the proposed routes to Roseacre Wood. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Updates from Day 6 of the reopened public inquiry on Cuadrilla’s plans to drill and frack at Roseacre Wood in Lancashire.

Today’s session, at Blackpool Football Club, will hear from Gerald Kells, the highways witness for Roseacre Awareness Group. The group opposes Cuadrilla’s  revised plans to manage lorry deliveries to the site. The plans include two additional lorry routes, 39 passing places and new traffic signals.

This afternoon the inquiry will hear the first public statements. We’ll report this testimony in a separate post.

Key facts about the inquiry and links to all the DrillOrDrop reports from the inquiry here

Reporting at this event has been made possible by donations from individual DrillOrDrop readers.

Check here for key points from today’s hearing

  • Evidence from Roseacre Awareness Group  highways expert
  • The absence of personal accidents does not mean a route is safe or suitable, says RAG

Roseacre Awareness Group highways witness

Ben Du Feu, for Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG), introduces Gerald Kells, the RAG highways witness.

180418 RW inq 3 Gerald Kells

Gerald Kells. Photo: Cuadrilla webcast

11.06am Passing places

Gerald Kells, RAG’s highways expert, says “the route is clearly unsuitable because Cuadrilla needed to put in this level of mitigation”. The assumption is that the road is unsuitable for your purpose if this is needed.

He picks an example a proposed passing place on Roseacre Road on a bend. He says at this point there are very few of the largest heavy goods vehicles. The chance of two of these vehicles meeting is not highly likely, he says. But if it does happen there is nowhere for pedestrians to go because the passing place has taken away the verge.

What is more likely is that a Cuadrilla HGV will meet another vehicle, Mr Kells says. The pedestrian will still have nowhere to go. A van or smaller lorry will be going at a faster speed than the Cuadrilla HGV. They may not see the pedestrian.

The mitigation has also changed the safety and suitability of this section of road for cyclists and pedestrians, Mr Kells says. The scheme proposes to widen the road and allow cars to drive faster. Vulnerable road users will be less able to see a car and the vulnerable user will be less able to see traffic because they are forced into the verge.

If a pedestrian was walking from Roseacre to Elswick they would have negotiate 10 or 11 passing places, Mr Kells says. The chance of pedestrians meeting vehicles increases at every passing place. The safety problems is not solved by engineering visibility solutions, he says.

Mr Kells says there is a good knowledge of cyclists but there is no information from Cuadrilla of how many pedestrians use this section of Roseacre Road. There are attractions that will draw people in, he says. But there is no Cuadrilla data for people walking on this section of the road.

Mr Kells asks: “Should we be making this road unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists?”

The large number of passing places is not resulting in something that is not safe or suitable, Mr Kells says.

10.56am Accident data

Gerald Kells, RAG’s highways expert, introduces accident data from 2012-present, from a junction between Whitehouse Lane and the A586.

The junction is not on a proposed traffic route. But Mr Kells says this was discounted by Cuadrilla as a possible route. David Bird, for Cuadrilla, had said two heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) could not navigate the junction safely even with mitigation.

There were no personal injury accidents on this junction, Mr Kells says. But this junction was rejected for a route by Cuadrilla.

RAG does not rely on historic accident data, Mr Kells says. If people do not feel they cannot do what they ought to be able do because they perceive it to be unsafe it is not a suitable route, Mr Kells says. That is a demonstration that the requirement of the National Planning Policy Framework has not been met, he adds.

Mr Kells says the current inspector should follow the approach of the 2016 inspector – supported by the Secretary of State – and treat historic accident data with caution.

10.47am Safe and suitable route

Mr Kells (pictured left), the RAG transport witness, tells the inquiry it is possible to make a route safe if it is unsuitable. He says:

“An absence of personal injury accidents does not demonstrate that a route is both safe and suitable.”

He says the route should allow everyone to go about their usual travel plans. He stresses the importance of giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists.

A transport assessment is intended to show whether the impact of a development on the highway is severe, as required under national planning policy.

10.46am Gerald Kells background

The inquiry hears that Mr Kells is an adviser on sustainable transport. He gave evidence on behalf of RAG to the 2016 inquiry.

10.39am Roseacre Awareness Group statement

Ben Du Feu (pictured above) hands in a revised statement of common ground on the inquiry.

He says Cuadrilla had control of the process of producing the statement, he says. Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) had agreed to part of the statements in the document but not all. The group felt the inspector would not have the full picture.

The inspector, Melvyn Middleton, says he needs to know where the group agrees and disagrees on the proposed mitigation measures, such as passing places, and why.

Mr Du Feu says the group is reviewing these issues.

10.31am Cuadrilla on passing places

Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, raises an issue from Lancashire County Council’s evidence on visibility. Neil Stevens, for the council, had said there was a need for drivers to be able to see beyond the passing place to which it was approaching.

Ms Lieven says she needs to see “precisely” what Mr Stevens is saying in writing. The point had come in without it being put down properly., she says. “I am not sure what Mr Stevens is requiring”, she says.

Alan Evans, for the council, says Mr Stevens will produce a note on the issue with a plan.

Ms Lieven says Cuadrilla’s highways expert needs to be able to see the note.

10.30am Hearing begins

The inquiry inspector, Melvyn Middleton (above), opens the formal part of the inquiry.

9.30am Discussion on conditions

The inquiry inspector, Melvyn Middleton, meets barristers from Cuadrilla, Lancashire County Council and Roseacre Awareness Group  for initial discussions on any conditions should the appeal be allowed.

Reporting from this inquiry has been made possible by individual donations to DrillOrDrop

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