Cyclists outside the gate of the proposed Roseacre Wood site. Photo: Roseacre Awareness Group
The reopened public inquiry on Cuadrilla’s plans to drill and frack at Roseacre Wood in Lancashire reaches its final week.
Today’s session, at Blackpool Football Club, will hear from the last witness, Tom Hastey, the traffic safety 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.
Today’s session is also expected hear more public statements. We’ll report this testimony in a separate post.
14:45 Inquiry adjourned until 3 pm
14:28 Inspector comments on site visit
Dagger road signals
The Inspector mentions entrances to the road between the Dagger Road signals. He describes the appellant’s case which is that people coming onto Dagger Road will see the HGVs on the main road and can react accordingly. Ms Lieven suggests that vehicles from a farm adjoining Dagger Road could be tagged so that if they joined Dagger Road from the farm, it would count as an HGV coming onto the system.
Mr Hastey suggests that the contractor could be working on a series of fields between the traffic signals and join Dagger Road from multiple gateways.
Mr Evans suggests the suggested solution would not pick up all vehicles joining Dagger Road. This is a risk factor which has not been addressed.
The Inspector asked whether passing places would be clearly marked. Ms Lieven says that bollards would cause problems at some passing places. She suggests that the app could guide the driver on where the passing places are.
Mr Evans for the council says that bollards were originally there to mark conventional passing places and would not be used to mark areas of road widening. He points out that the app would only alert Cuadrilla drivers to passing places.
Last inspector classified effects on road safety as severe. The Inspector asks what this classification means in practice.
The Inspector asks what happens if one or two routes are considered acceptable by the Secretary of State. Ms Lieven says she thinks the development could be accepted on two routes, but it would be problematic on one route only.
Mr Evans says there would have to be a lot of unscrambling of the Traffic Management Plan, even with two routes available.
14:20 Questions from Inspector to Mr Hastey
The Inspector asks Mr Hastey to explain wheel configuration for larger lorries. Mr Hastey says that large articulated lorries now must have air suspension to protect roads. The air suspension means there is no room for double wheels, which can cause problems as there is no inner wheel to take the weight if you go onto the verge.
The Inspector goes over the U bolts holding the trailer to the tractor, which are only 27cm above the road surface. Mr Hastey explains that there is a problem with rutted verges as there is a risk of the bolts making contact with the road.
14:12 Re-examination of Mr Hastey
Mr Du Feu refers to one of the core documents. Mr Hastey agrees that his risk assessment methodology is similar to that laid out in the document.
Cross examination of Mr Hastey
13:20 Detailed points
14:00 Green route
Ms Lievens suggests there is good visibility at the junction. Mr Hastey suggests it is not as good as suggested by the photograph. Ms Lievens says there are a lot of HGVs on the route at present, including 15 articulated vehicles over the course of 12 hours. Mr Hastey says vehicles are maneouvring round the corner, but not safely, as they cross the white line as they do.
13:40 Red route
Highamside Road/Inskip Road junction:
Mr Hastey says drivers often sweep round the junction and may not have time to take evading action if it meets an HGV. Ms Lieven disputes this.
Mr Hastey queries whether tracking diagrams take full account of mirrors. He disputes there is good visibility on all sections of this road. and says the road is deceptive and looks wider than it is. Ms Lieven asks if he accepts that two vehicles will meet very slowly. Mr Hastey says he is concerned about conflict between the mirrors. A slight error of judgement will lead to a collision.
Lodge Lane/Preston Road
Ms Lieven asks if there is any evidence of HGVs flipping over at this point. Mr Hastey says this is because drivers treat the junction with extreme caution. There are also very few large HGVs on this part of the network. Ms Lieven suggests there are 6 large HGVs per day.
13:20 Salwick Road/Inskip Road
Ms Lieven says an HGV can turn into Salwick Road safely if there isn’t already an HGV waiting in Salwick Road. Mr Hastey disputes this, saying there is a 110 degree turn. Ms Lieven asks if the track diagrams are wrong. Mr Hastey says that as an experienced HGV driver, he would have great difficulty making the turn safely.
Ms Lieven says where an HGV does have to cross to the other carriageway, oncoming drivers will see the large vehicle and will slow down. Mr Hastey says the oncoming driver will not know which carriageway the HGV is in until too late.
Hand and Dagger
Ms Lieven says there is only a problem if there are HGVs coming from opposite directions; otherwise the HGV can stay on the correct side of the road. Mr Hastey says there is a risk of overturning, due to the adverse camber. Ms Lieven refers to the fact there have been no accidents. Mr Hastey says the problem is the articulated vehicle, and this vehicle type is currently rare in the area. Ms Lieven asks if it is inevitable that a class 10 vehicle would overturn. Mr Hastey says there is a strong possibility.
12:50 am Risk assessment methodology
Ms Lieven describes Mr Hastey’s methodology, where risks are assessed by severity of incident multiplied by likelihood. Ms Lieven asks where the guidance for this methodology comes from. Mr Hastey says he uses the scheme recommended by Lancashire County Council, and has used this for the last twenty years. Ms Lieven says there is no document in front of the inquiry that supports this methodology.
Ms Lieven says the speed of an accident is a critical consideration in severity of the accident. Mr Hastey says a 5 mph collision with a 44 tonne vehicle can be serious.
Ms Lieven asks where, in the first risk assessment (referring to Roseacre Road), has Mr Hastey referred to the actual speeds of vehicles at the site. Mr Hastey says he has lived in the area for 40 years, and is aware of the speeds vehicles travel. Ms Lieven asks if Mr Hastey has read the baseline traffic conditions report. Mr Hastey says he has not read the report in full detail but is familiar with traffic conditions in the area.
Ms Lieven quotes findings of 33 mph for average speed of HGVs at Roseacre Road. Mr Hastey says he would dispute this figure.
Ms Lieven quotes a description at the A585 junction of “catastrophic consequences” if an accident occurs. She asks where has Mr Hastey has taken account of proposed junction improvements. Mr Hastey says they make no difference to the maneouvres analysed.
Ms Lieven goes back to the Roseacre Road site entrance. She asks where is the reference to the Banskman? She suggests that Mr Hastey hasn’t taken account of mitigations when performing his risk assessments. Mr Hastey says he has accepted there would be a banksman, as it is standard practice.
Ms Lieven refers to Dagger Road between M55 and Hand & Dagger. She quotes Mr Hastey’s assessment that there are no control measures in place. She says there is no mention of the proposed traffic signals. Mr Hastey accepts this, but says he carried out a risk assessment of the conditions in place.
Ms Lieven says frequency of events determines likelihood of accident occurring. Where is the frequency of vehicles meeting considered? Mr Hastey says there is no evidence of OGV-2 vehicles travelling on Dagger Road. Ms Lieven refers to baseline data showing there are 10 OGV-2 vehicle movements each day on Dagger Road. Mr Hastey says he would challenge those figures. He says he has only ever seen two articulated vehicles on Dagger Road, but has seen regular rigid vehicles.
Ms Lieven refers to the Hand & Dagger junction. She asks where Mr Hastey refers to accident data for the location. Mr Hastey says he hasn’t looked at the data.
Ms Lieven refers to a photo of an overturned lorry and asks where it is. Mr Hastey says it was taken at Tarleton, which is not on the route, but was used to show what happens when a vehicle goes to the edge of the road surface which then fails.
12:45 pm Driver training
Ms Lieven asks about the training undertaken by a driver of a large vehicle. Mr Hastey says the driver needs to take five modules, of 7.5 hours each. Articulated vehicle drivers need Class 1 Licences.
Ms Lieven says that drivers need to know how to reverse, use mirrors and so on. Mr Hastey agrees.
12:20 pm Inquiry continues
Mr Hastey continues giving evidence.
12:25 pm Green Route
Double corner in Elswick
Travelling from Thistelton to Elswick. There is a right turn followed by a left turn. The driver has to swing out into the opposing carriageway to get round the second bend. Mr Hastey says he has witnessed this occurring many times.
The problem is worse for an articulated vehicle as the tractor unit will need to swing out further.
There is a 110 degree bend, leading to the trailer swinging out. The Inspector says the appellants have agreed to meet conditions on this junction from Highways England.
Mr Hastey says whatever works are done to the junction, an articulated vehicle will effectively have to jack-knife to get round.
Mr Du Feu asks what it would be like for a large articulated vehicle to navigate all the hazards described.
Mr Hastey again draws attention to the risk of breaking the road edge, vehicle running onto the verge, risk of rutting, the trailer swinging out. Every bend should be widened, narrow roads should be widened.
12:05 pm Adjournment to 12:20 pm
Evidence from Thomas Hastey
Thomas Hastey (left) and Ben du Feu for Roseacre Action Group Source: Cuadrilla video
11:35 am Red Route
Junction between Highamside Road and Inskip: For the journey outbound from the site, Mr Hastey describes the route the driver will have to take, with the lorry swinging out and crossing the white line to take a left turn.
To get out of a nearby passing place, a lorry will need to reverse.
Cars often take this junction at speed.
Mr Hastey says that lorries will need 6.3 metres to pass. On one passing place, the total width is 6m including the passing place. Mr Bird has designed the passing place relying on the Manual for Streets, and has not taken account of the mirrors.
Mr Hastey talks about the risk of two lorry mirrors hitting, particularly on straight narrow stretches, where vehicles could each be travelling at 40 mph.
Bend at Inskip (Outbound) Source: Google maps
(Outbound) The driver will need to cross into opposing lane to avoid colliding with the building on the bend. The trailer unit, taking the shortest route, will have to come very close to the small wall and building.
Bend at Inskip (inbound). Source: Google maps
(Inbound) The tractor unit has to slightly overlap the pavement. The front nearside part of the trailer will protrude further onto the pavement, causing danger to any pedestrians, particularly children using playing fields.
Mr Du Feu asks about placing a mirror on the bend. Mr Hastey refers to comments from Mr Bird suggesting that the mirror is not necessary and need not be installed. Mr Hastey says he doesn’t think the mirror is a good idea at all. The mirror could be covered in frost, condensation and there is a risk of dazzle from the sun.
Lodge Lane/Preston Road
(Outbound ) On one particular bend, the trailer unit crosses into the opposing carriageway. Needs a snake-like maneouvre to avoid conflict as vehicle turns into Lodge Lane, and would need to take up both traffic lanes.
(Inbound) A driver turning out of Lodge Lane and then immediately having to take the bend on the main road will have to be inch perfect. If the trailer goes onto the verge, it could flip the trailer over.
Mr Hastey suggests it is not possible to use the adjacent passing place without going past and reversing into it. Mr Du Feu points out that the appellant has shown how this can be done. Highly unlikely says Mr Hastey.
11.30 am Blue Route
Mr Hastey describes the bends and hills coming out of Molly’s Plantation and says the combination of right angle bends and rises and falls makes the road dangerous to drive
11:25 am Hand & Dagger junction
Mr Hastey challenges Mr Bird’s assertion that you can rely on the elevated position of the driver. He describes the route the tractor and trailer will follow, and says the trailer will cut across the road and will be leaning against the camber, a problem for trailers with a high centre of gravity.
11:15 am Junction on Inskip Road
Mr Hastey expresses concern about the junction between Inskip Road and Salwick Road, and suggests there will be conflict between turning vehicles and other road users, because the trailer, taking the shortest route, will block the oncoming lane.
11:00 am Running on road edges
On some parts of the routes, says Mr Hastey, the trailer width of a 44 ton articulated vehicle means that the wheels will have to run along the road edge, causing the road to fail, with parts of the road surface breaking off.
There are also places where a vehicle mirror will overlap a footpath when two vehicles meet. This applies on the road through Molly’s Plantation.
Mr Hastey refers to photographs taken from inside a vehicle cab showing how the driver cannot clearly see pedestrians around a bend ahead because of the hedges, despite the driver being in an elevated position.
Mr Du Feu asks whether passing places will help. Mr Hastey says that because the trailer unit doesn’t follow the route of the tractor unit, you need more road width to complete manoeuvres without risk to other users.
10:50 am Driving on verges
Mr Du Feu asks about driving on verges. Mr Hastey says driving on the verge, particularly with a 44 ton vehicle, can damage the road edge. On a saturated verge, there is a risk that a vehicle could overturn. Repeated driving on the verge will cause deepening ruts, increasing risk of vehicle turnover.
On an articulated lorry, trailer is fixed to tractor unit by U-bolts. These bolts are 27 cm above the road surface.
Ms Lieven objects to technical arguments being introduced at this stage. The Inspector says there has been no previous mention of the 27 cm measurement.
Mr Hastey refers to a photograph showing how a vehicle moving off the edge of the road can cause the road to fail. He says he is concerned that vehicles coming off the highway will cause a vehicle to roll over.
With a rigid vehicle, when the vehicle crosses onto the verge, the inner wheel will support the vehicle. With single tyres on a single vehicle, this is not the case and the edge of the road can break.
10:30 am Articulated and rigid vehicles
Mr Hastey says he wants people to realise what it is like to drive an HGV-2 vehicle, by providing pictorial evidence. He went round the route last Friday evening with an HGV vehicle and driver, and photographed the lorry at various junctions, from both in front and behind the vehicle.
Mr Du Feu asks about how the weight of a vehicle controls its stopping distance. Mr Hastey says a heavier vehicle needs more time to stop. Heavier vehicles, says Mr Hastey, are more difficult to maneouver as they have a longer wheelbase.
Mr Hastey says people need to understand the size of the largest vehicles which are juggernauts, – 16.5 m long and over 3m wide including the mirrors.
Mr Hastey says an articulated unit is effectively two vehicles, a tractor unit and a trailer. Tractor and trailer may come from different companies. Articulated vehicles are more difficult to drive. When you take a bend, the tractor unit follows one route and the trailer follows another – the shortest route.
Blind spots on an articulated vehicle are different from rigid vehicles says Mr Hastey. As an articulated vehicle pivots, multiple mirrors on the driver’s door will give as much visibility as possible.
Mr Du Feu asks about reversing. Mr Hastey says reversing an articulated vehicle is extremely difficult and depends on the quality of the driver.
10:28 Site visit
The Inspector says he drove or walked the routes twice on Friday.
The Inspector said a number of things were different last Friday from what he had seen previously, suggesting orchestration. In particular, he mentions the number of parked cars in Elswick, with five or six times as many parked cars on the route on Friday as during previous visits.
Mr du Feu for Roseacre Awareness Action group says he wants to make it clear that RAG had absolutely no role in any orchestration for the site visit.
10:15 am Previous issues
Height restrictions at Inskip
Ms Lieven refers to height restrictions at Inskip due to electrical cables. She says the MoD have given permission for cables to be raised where necessary.
Ms Lieven says that 75% of deliveries to the site are predicted to be by regular suppliers.
Ms Lieven refers to a proposal in the Traffic Management Plan that there should be an app for drivers which they will need to download to their phones. The app will help guide drivers along the routes and indicate the location of passing places.
Ms Lieven refers to a passing place on the green route which went into private land. This has now been re-designed so this is no longer the case.
10:13 am Session begins
The inquiry inspector, Melvyn Middleton, opens Day 8 on the inquiry.
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