Olivia Dutton

We went along to the HE consultation forum at Antrobus House in Amesbury this afternoon. There wasn’t a huge amount of new information on offer but we picked up some useful nuggets as follows:

1. Location of the A303 junction to the west of the western portal
• the exact location hasn’t yet been finalised
• archaeology isn’t a massive constraint in preventing the junction being shifted further east towards the A360/Longbarrow roundabout
• the location of the junction and the need to construct a bridge over the existing A303 with a northern bypass route won’t have much impact on overall construction costs – both the southern and northern routes cost similar amounts
• landscaping of a junction might be slightly easier with a southern route because it wouldn’t be as prominent and would be easier to blend into the surrounding landscape
• the location of the junction on either the northern or southern bypass options would have minimal impact on rat running through Shrewton (and so shouldn’t be an issue for Shrewton residents)

2. Traffic management issues during construction of the northern route
• there wouldn’t be major traffic management issues on the existing A303 resulting from the need to build a bridge over the A303 with a northern bypass option
• critical construction work could be done at night and traffic diverted during off peak times
• the section of road for the bridge over the Till would be manufactured offsite and lowered in sections onto the support structures

3. Level of embankments and depth of cuttings
• haven’t been determined yet although there are a number of mitigation measures that could reduce the impact on noise/pollution and the landscape
• the height of embankments and depths of cuttings are to some degree determined by the need to preserve a gradient of 2% on the dual carriageway and accord to highway construction standards, however, these standards can be relaxed if a good case can be made for it
• gradients of 2% are apparently necessary to allow HGVs to safely navigate ascents and descents, although the inclines and declines on some existing sections of dual carriage way on the A303 far exceed 2%
• the images on the heights of embankments in the video presentations of the bypass options are misleading in some areas and at variance with the on the ground surveys that HE have carried out. We pointed out that this didn’t help residents make an informed choice about which route to adopt if they are being presented with conflicting information. The environment officer advised that it might be best to assume “a worst case scenario” when making a decision
• more in depth analysis has been done on the impact of both routes on noise and pollution levels and this will be released by HE in the near future. Until that happens, the environment officer cautioned against commissioning independent surveys
• the environment expert suggested that although she didn’t favour either the southern or northern route, that it would be easier to mitigate some of the landscaping challenges on the southern rather than the northern route

4. Severance of communities caused by the precise routing of the W-S bypass
• emerged as a potentially important point. It was clear that HE officials had no idea of the level of access on fps and bridleways between Berwick and W-S. Quantifying this by measuring the number of W-S and Berwick residents who regularly use the fps between the 2 villages would assist HE in reaching a decision on the preferred route

5. Impact of both routes on noise and pollution
• providing local information on wind patterns would be helpful in assisting HE in making a decision on which route to adopt. It was unclear whether wind direction had played any part in the noise impact surveys that HE have already carried out
• it wasn’t clear how extensive the surveys that HE have conducted on the impact of noise and pollutionare as they seem to have focussed primarily on the precise location of each route rather than the finer detail on embankment levels. cutting depths etc. HE plan to finesse the details at a later stage (ie after the preferred route has been announced) to reflect local residents’ concerns

6. Location of equipment/construction village during construction
• unlikely to be in the WHS but beyond that, nothing has been decided.

7. Method of submitting feedback to HE
• it is possible for residents to supplement responses on the official feedback hardcopy forms with detailed arguments supported by photos/graphs/tables and also submit powerpoint presentations by post. Residents can submit more than one lot of feedback

8. The next 7 weeks is key

• We got the impression that the next 6 weeks is vital in helping shape the decision on which of the two bypass routes to adopt. Once the preferred route has been announced in the summer it is extremely unlikely that that decision will be subsequently changed. Getting W-S and Berwick residents along to as many of the presentation forums as possible to express their views verbally to HE officials could be helpful in determining which route is adopted. If HE are deluged with a stream of residents supporting one of the bypass options, it could help sway their final decision to reflect residents’ concerns.