Having looked at the two Winterbourne Stoke A303 bypass options, and studied the videos of the two routes provided by Highways England I have 3 major concerns about the southern route relative to the northern route:
1. Noise and pollution levels will be much greater in Winterbourne Stoke from the southern bypass route than the northern route
My major concern is that there is a significant disparity in the topography of both routes and a significant difference in the lengths of raised embankments used on the northern and southern bypass routes to the west of the Till valley crossing points. Based on the prevailing wind direction (80% of the time from the SSW to SSE) and the topography of the landscape which funnels noise and pollution up the Till Valley from the south into Winterbourne Stoke, I am extremely worried that there will be a significantly greater negative impact on noise and pollution levels in Winterbourne Stoke if the southern route is preferred over the northern route. At peak times, there will be four times as much traffic using the A303 past Winterbourne Stoke than currently use the single carriageway A303, because there will be two carriageways running in both directions and the traffic will be going twice as fast.
The northern bypass route appears to follow the existing terrain to a much greater extent than the southern route and include minimal raised sections from Berwick Down to Scotland Lodge. Until the dual carriageway crosses the Till on the northern route there is only around 0.6km of raised embankments . Cuttings are used to the north west of Scotland Lodge which should help reduce noise and pollution emissions. In contrast the southern bypass route from Berwick Downs to the River Till viaduct crossing, includes 2.25km of raised sections (4x the amount v the northern route), some of it up to 14m high.
I am concerned that the increased wind footprint created by the 2.25km of raised dual carriageway to the south and south west of Winterbourne Stoke on the southern bypass route will significantly increase noise and pollution levels in Winterbourne Stoke compared to the northern route.
2. Adverse impact on the surrounding landscape will be significantly greater from the southern route than the northern route.
I am also extremely concerned that the extensive raised sections (some of them up to 14m high) on the southern bypass route will have a much greater negative impact on the landscape of the Till Valley between Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick St James than the northern bypass route which will be much less prominent because it will have fewer raised sections and will largely follow the contours of the surrounding landscape. In those sections on the northern route where there are raised embankments (to the north of Scotland Lodge), I wonder whether the embankment levels could be lowered.
3. In aggregate more people in Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick St James living within 1km of the proposed route will be negatively impacted by the southern than the northern bypass route.
In terms of the negative impact on the two communities (Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick) lying within 1km of the two bypass options, I am concerned that in aggregate, far more residents will be negatively impacted by the southern bypass route than the northern route. A northern bypass route will divert the A303 away from both communities and yet be far enough way from Shrewton to ensure that they would suffer minimal impact from increased noise and pollution. In contrast I believe the southern route would lead to a large increase in noise and pollution in Berwick St James compared to that generated currently by the A303 and in terms of Winterbourne Stoke, the southern route could have a much greater negative impact on noise and pollution than the northern route because 85% of the village is located south of the A303.
Finally I am concerned that the Highways England Report on the 2 bypass options for Winterbourne Stoke is heavily skewed in favour of the southern option yet provides very little hard evidence (such as reports on the impact of noise levels, details about the heights of embankments and depths of cuttings or panoramic photographs of what each section of bypass will look like against the surrounding landscape from both Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick) to help residents of both villages make an informed decision about which route to choose. I was extremely worried to overhear one Highways England employee remark during the forum at the Manor Barn on Saturday, that she was in favour of the southern route being chosen and yet also appear to admit that no detailed study had been done on the impact on neighbouring communities of noise and pollution levels of the southern bypass route and that such a report would only be conducted after a preferred route was selected! Quite extraordinary and in apparent total contradiction of Highways England’s claim to be entirely impartial about which bypass route should be chosen.