For 10 years Hucclecote parish council has been campaigning to get action taken to reduce the impact on our residents of the intolerable noise from the M5. This has involved working with our colleagues in Upton St Leonards parish and the city’s Abbey ward. Together we have applied relentless pressure on the Bristol office of National Highways – this is the government agency that looks after major roads in our region.
With the elevated section of the motorway between Hucclecote Road and junction 11A, and the prevailing westerly wind, our parish feels the full brunt of the noise pollution.
The existing sound barriers were installed when the M5 was built around 1970. Since then traffic flows have increased hugely, junction 11A has been added, and when the capacity of junction 12 was increased this also amplified the number of vehicles passing through our parish. All these changes have resulted in increased noise for the residents of Hucclecote.
To date, our biggest “success” was the installation in 2017 of a ‘low noise surface’; however, this has had minimal impact and it will soon need to be renewed as it only has a seven-year life.
Throughout our campaign our main objective has been to try to convince National Highways to install bigger and better sound absorption barriers between junctions 11A and 12. Similar modern barriers have been installed around the M25 and on a stretch of the M40.
The plans to sort out the A417 Missing Link pose another challenge for us. National Highways predicts the number of vehicles passing up and down Crickley Hill will rise massively from the current 24,000 a day to 42,000! Our view is that most of this extra traffic will then flow on/off the M5 at junction 11A.
Mindful of the additional traffic that is likely to be generated by the Missing Link we requested a meeting with National Highways and Kier (the contractors working on the scheme), and this took place at the end of August. National Highways argued (unconvincingly from our perspective) that despite the increased traffic there would be no increase in noise affecting our properties!
We, with our partners, will continue to fight for better barriers. We have lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman about the approach National Highways has taken, and we will be asking the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to look at our case. (DEFRA has previously designated the area around junction 11A as a priority “Noise Improvement Area”.) We will also keep our three local MPs informed and ask for their support, as well as that of Transport Minister (Forest of Dean MP, Mark Harper).