A303 Public Consultation

A303 Public Consultation

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    Just to correct an error of fact in JMD’s comment, as pointed out by a resident of Berwick St James. Whilst Winterbourne Stoke does indeed enjoy the benefit of getting free access to Stonehenge on a residents pass, the same isn’t true for Berwick St James as they were not part of the old Rural District of Amesbury at the time of the 1911 census. See http://bypasswinterbournestoke.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-stonehenge-local-residents-pass-and.html for more details

    English Heritage continue to try and put more and more conditions on use of these passes; conditions such as demanding you book in advance. None of these conditions have ever been tested in law.

    Avatar for Olivia DuttonOlivia Dutton

    Do we have a date yet for the Village Meeting to discuss our concerns in an open forum? At the Parish Council Meeting on Monday (attended by 6 villagers), it was proposed that a meeting would take place sometime next week (possibly Thursday 26th at the Manor Barn with a time TBC)…

    Avatar for David DouseDavid Douse

    As someone who has lived locally for 34 years I would like to give an opinion on the proposals for the new bypasses for Winterbourne Stoke.

    Firstly can I agree with the decision to take action on implementing the long-promised bypass, and the proposal for a tunnel under Stonehenge which seems to meet with a general consensus.

    I would also like to express an opinion in favour of the Northern route for the bypass.

    Our home is in the valley settlement between Berwick St. James and the 303 at Winterbourne Stoke. Our hamlet used to be called”Over the Hill” by local people in Berwick and it has the same postal address and telephone prefix as Berwick. Thus our locality identifies with Berwick as opposed to Winterbourne Stoke.

    Your leaflet declares that your intention is to improve life for local communities. The Southern route would have a detrimental effect on any sense of community we have and isolate us.I realise that this is a small point, but I am expressing my opinion.

    I am much more concerned over the impact of the dual carriageway you are proposing through the field between our hamlet and Berwick.
    As I look at the pictorial representation of the impact on the landscape on page 46 of the leaflet I would question why you have chosen to take montage from one side of the road and not the other: our side where there would be immense impact, in my view. This picture gives an impression that the proposed dual carriageway as it enters the viaduct will be a mere shadow on the horizon. Viewed from the other side of the hill, where our habitation sits, we must be facing a stonking great dual carriageway bestriding the countryside and dominating the landscape. For no dual carriageway comes without space for a crash barrier in the middle and hard shoulders at each side, thus taking up no mean width of land.

    Thus I would question your assertion that you are minimising the effect on the local community by implementing the Southern route.

    There is research on the higher incidence of Dementia in people who live close to major traffic routes: I would wonder if you have considered this aspect of effect as you seem to favour the Southern route which impacts a large amount of people in Winterbourne Stoke and Berwick, compared to the sparse population who would be affected by the Northern route.

    The same argument goes for the pollution from a large amount of traffic travelling through our midst: chest problems would be exacerbated and the noise levels from a raised road as it goes toward the viaduct would be more noticeable than we have at present from the 303 on the other side. I could touch on the possibility of litter on our rural landscape -we already have plenty on our 3083 and the 303 at present is blighted.

    I trust that the opinions expressed so far have countered the idea that the Southern bypass would “ minimise the effect on the landscape, nearby people and property”.

    I would like to say, in response to the comments on the varying detrimental effects on habitats and ancient architectural sites, that both Northern and Southern bypasses will invade pretty well equal portions of both. We have a lovely rural landscape with abundance of wildlife: on walking in the locality we see herons and egrets, red kites breed successfully, owls hunt nightly and hares breed in the higher field . Deer occasionally are spotted and plenty of pheasants and partridge abound.

    All around Stonehenge there are historic sites; we come to a point in rational thinking where we seem to confuse the rights of the living in our landscape with those of the long dead.

    Finally I would point out in reply to the posit that building the Northern bypass would entail closing sections of the 303 and inconveniencing travellers during construction of the new road. Anyone who drives along the present 303 is well-practised in coping with diversions, delays and indeed I believe that the M3 has been closed to traffic overnight at weekends for quite some time now because of construction. I believe that if drivers know that there is a permanent improvement at the end of their temporary delay they will be stoical.

    Wherever this bypass is built it will be the cause of distress for some and profit for others. I would like to think that, before these routes were decided on, local people had been consulted. I appreciate that on just regarding details on a map these routes have been chosen academically. But as I read the leaflets I am concerned that there already seems to be a bias in favour of the Southern Bypass. I trust that i have given reason enough to show that for many of us in Berwick St James and Winterbourne Stoke this is not the case and for us the Northern Bypass offers less trauma and to fewer people.

    G Douse.


    @Olivia – we are still aiming to have the public meeting on Thursday 26th, both venue and timing TBC – hopefully in the next 24 hours!


    @David Douse – in one way we are flattered as you seem to have confused the Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council Website, here, with that of Highways England. It is they who sent out the glossy leaflet we all received. Indeed, all the comments you make appear to be levelled at the Highways England material. Please can we suggest you copy your post to the Highways England A303 Consultation at: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/cip/a303-stonehenge/consultation/

    Avatar for Olivia DuttonOlivia Dutton

    I agree with Grace’s post! I have gone through all 51 pages of the HE leaflet with a highlighter pen and there does seem to be a clear bias towards the proposed southern option. The photo montage on P46 is a classic example of how misleading the literature is and the perspectives chosen to illustrate the impact. I heard someone earlier today say that the southern option would be better because the northern option has “a higher and longer viaduct” – based entirely on the evidence of that photomontage!

    At the presentation in Amesbury yesterday, we spent over an hour with Liz (whose area is mitigating the effect on the landscape). The southern route is apparently favoured by HE because it would be “easier to conceal” than the northern route and “due to cuttings and clever landscaping, it would have less impact on the landscape than the northern route and could hardly be seen from the village”. Not a very convincing argument (unless you stand where the photograph on p46 was taken). I was able to tell her that Jonathan had walked along the line of the southern route wearing a high viz jacket(!) and I had taken photographs from our house following his progress – and that was at ground level, not at the proposed height of the 12m viaduct.

    We were told that the two videos of the northern and southern routes provided a “general overview” but shouldn’t be taken as totally accurate. That’s pretty worrying if people are basing their opinions on this.

    Another thing we were told was that the gradients of carriageway had to be as close to 2% as possible, which was why the embankments and viaducts over the Till were as high, so that HGVs would have less difficulty climbing hills – so, not only do we have 4 lanes of traffic rather than 2, they will be raised even higher, so the noise will carry further, just so that lorries can maintain their speeds!

    Avatar for JMDJMD

    I would be very interested to get answers from Highways England to the following two rather basic questions:

    1. How does the current proposed bypass route to the north of Winterbourne Stoke differ from the previous Government preferred route? I understand from various sources, that one of the key differences is the height of the proposed embankments and viaducts. Apparently both were much less pronounced under the previous preferred route to the north of Winterbourne Stoke. If this is true, then what is the reason for this significant change?

    2. Where will the spoil from the Stonehenge Tunnel be redeployed? How much of the tunnel spoil is being used to elevate the heights of the embankments on the southern and northern bypass routes?

    Avatar for John SummerhayesJohn Summerhayes

    I visited Amesbury yesterday but as your previous correspondents commented there was a distinct shortage of answers. The standard answer was along the lines of “we are here to find out whether those who respond prefer the north or south route” and if so what are their reasons/justification. Only then when we have made a decision on the north/south will we carry out the necessary technical and other appraisals. When I asked if those appraisals did not give acceptable answers was it possible to move to the alternative bypass the answer was “No”.
    In consequence the height of embankments or bridges, the depth of cuttings will be dependent on those appraisals. I enquired what will happen with the chalk from the Tunnel. The policy is to use it as infill so that no removal of spoil is necessary off site. It follows that if there is more spoil than is required then embankments may have to be heightened.
    On the subject of noise although a booth was provided to hear the current noise levels at 5 selected locations, it gave no indication of what noise levels would be from either by-pass. I accept that is not practical nor will it be when the north/south route is selected, though it may be possible to create in the laboratory.
    However the Land Compensation Act 1973 Pt 1 provides for compensation to be paid when an interest in land is depreciated by physical factors caused by the use of public works. Physical factors are noise, vibration, smell, fumes and artificial lighting.
    When asked about the location for the construction site, the advice was to the effect that it would likely to be near the roundabout for whichever route is chosen.
    I understand that there will be no access onto the new route at Berwick Down. It follows that residents of W.S. will have a circuitous route to either of the roundabouts. Residents at the south end of the village (and those of B. St J.) will have a very long way to go to the southern roundabout before they actually move westwards. The northern route roundabout is closer but still some distance. What is wrong with an exit west from the old A303 through the village and access east into the village (presumably cost). It would be much better for B. St J. and Shrewton residents.
    Having written this out on pages and before adding it here I have just read the excellent submission by JMD about archaeological ruins. I have said for 25 years since the first “preferred Stonehenge by-pass route” was drawn up that HE (and its predecessors were “more interested in the dead than the living”. The Archaeologists had too big an input.


    A “Meeting of the Parish” will be held in St Peter’s Church on Thursday 26th January. The idea is to capture the concerns of villagers about


    of the two routes proposed for the Winterbourne Stoke bypass. Whichever route is ultimately selected, we need to identify now which features of both routes that don’t work or might cause problems for the village and indicate to Highways England how they might be mitigated.

    Avatar for David DouseDavid Douse

    To the Councillor who requested that my post be submitted to HE:that has already been done.


    @David Douse – Thank you for confirming that.

    Avatar for JMDJMD

    I went along to the A303 public consultation at Shrewton yesterday and received the following information:

    1. How much of the Stonehenge tunnel spoil will be taken offsite?

    A: Virtually none. As far as possible, all of it will be re-deployed in other areas, including building up the embankment levels on the W-S bypass routes. The cost of taking spoil offsite is prohibitive (£140 a ton) and there is very little leeway within the total project cost (£1.4b) to remove significant amounts of spoil offsite.

    2. Does the amount of tunnel spoil have any impact on the height of embankments and viaducts?

    A: Yes! (See previous answer)

    3. Why are the heights of the viaducts and embankments on the proposed northern bypass route so much higher and more visible than they were on the previous Government’s preferred northern bypass route that was published in 2006?

    A: Primarily due to the need to re-deploy spoil from the Stonehenge tunnel and keep within budget.

    4. To what extent have you assessed the impact of the prevailing wind on dwellings as part of your noise impact survey?
    A: It hasn’t been measured at all not have the heights of embankments. A more accurate noise impact survey will be conducted, but only after one of the proposed routes has been chosen.

    5. What level of noise has been assessed as “acceptable” in the noise impact surveys?

    A. The noise assessment surveys that have been done have followed World Health Organisation guidelines on what constitutes an acceptable level of noise, which is anything up to 55 decibels (db). The traffic noise that has been measured on the high street in W-S is 72db. This implies that while the northern route might result in an overall improvement in noise levels in W-S (as those houses currently adjacent to the A303 will see traffic noise fall from current levels of 72db), that it was very possible that for the southern half of W-S and all of Berwick St James, noise levels would increase significantly but remain “acceptable” (ie below the 55db threshold)

    6. What impact do recent archaeological discoveries have on the precise location of the A303 junction for the northern route to the west of the A360?

    A. Very little. There have been some recent archaeological discoveries including some new long barrows and a henge, but these have been found to the east of the A360 and within the WHS. There is room to shift the northern junction further east towards the A360 but the southern route (and its junction) is currently slightly more favoured because the site of the southern route junction is lower down and less visible from the WHS

    7. How accurate are forecasts for future traffic usage of the A303 once the tunnel and bypass is opened?

    A. Hopefully reasonably accurate although the models that were used to predict volumes of traffic using the A3 Hindhead tunnel (1.2 miles) and dual carriageway (4 miles) which was opened in 2011, severely underestimated the increase in traffic. Highways England had predicted that one year after opening in 2011, average daily traffic (AADT) would increase from 30,000 to 36,000 (20%) whereas it actually rose from 30,000 to 40,000 33%). The traffic models failed to capture the increase in traffic volumes as improved journey times encouraged drivers to shift to road from other modes of transport (rail), shift routes, and make journeys that they wouldn’t have made before the tunnel and dual carriageway were opened.


    @ JMD – Thank you for a very useful report on your visit to Shrewton. Superficially, HE look to have been helpful, but the devil is in the detail.

    Let’s take road noise for example. HE claim they have a measure of 72 dB on the current A303. They don’t say where this sound level was measured, under what road conditions how the sound varied by location, etc etc. But what does 72 decibels mean. First, a bit of background on decibels (dB).  The decibel is used to compare two power levels, with the dB difference being 10 times the logarithm of the ratio of the powers.  More specifically we use dB in sound to compare the sound intensity values (W/m2).  For example if one sound level was 1000 times another, that would be a 30 dB difference.

    So, what does a 72 Db noise actually sound like? It can be compared to the following: Passenger car at 65 mph at 25 ft (77 dB); motorway at 50 ft from the road edge @ 10 a.m. (76 dB). Living room music (76 dB); radio or TV-audio, vacuum cleaner (70 dB). (Source IAC Acoustics)

    The WHO recommendation is for 55DB (see here)

    That equates to the noise of a quiet suburb, a conversation at home heard from 1 metre away. Large electrical transformers at 100 feet. and it’s around a quarter of the level of sound at 72dB.

    What HE seem to have forgotten to mention is that there is a second, more recent WHO figure for noise at night of 40 dB (see here). That equates the noise level being that of being in a quiet Library, bird calls (44 dB); lowest limit of urban ambient sound. Funny they haven’t mentioned it.

    They also say they haven’t really considered the weather. Really, as long ago as 2009, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) were saying that it should be considering weather in such assessments. So we might ask why HE are ignoring POST?

    You can take every statement that HE have offered up in a similar forensic way and you are left with the inescapable view that they have neither collected, nor provided sufficient data of an appropriate quality to reasonably expect a thinking person to choose a preferred route on the basis of the evidence presented.

    Avatar for JMDJMD

    Addendum to my post on noise levels- the HE official quantified the WHO acceptable 55db noise level as pertaining to residential dwellings,outdoors, during daylight hours.I’m not sure if that has any impact ,either way, on the validity of their survey. The key issue is surely, will the majority (50%+) of W-S residents notice a significant increase or decrease in noise levels after the dual carriageway bypass is built to the north or south of W-S? It is a simple question, which may inform residents’ choice of which bypass route to choose and one which Highways England should be able to answer. Please could we have an answer to this rather basic question ASAP!


    @ JMD The 55dB level is a WHO recommendation that HMG work to. The issue isn’t so much that level as the quality of the survey that gave you a single figure of 72dB for the A303, without saying how far away from the road this was measured. Typically, it would be measured 10 metres away, but was it. We also know that traffic varies throughout each hour of each day, each day of the week and each week of the year. So you might expect them, if they had a years worth of data taken at a data rate of once every 200 milliseconds, to have at least 157 million data points for every site they had surveyed and you would have hoped they had already surveyed multiple sites on the existing route and collected background data on the two route options. So, a hell of a lot of data is needed, and they have offered you but a single data point.

    Even if they had only sampled at a single point for 24 hours I would expect to see just over 400,000 data points. These would normally be given as a summary report that included:

    The duration of the sampling (eg 24 hours, 1 year or whatever)
    Frequency Weighting – you would expect it to be ANSI type A to represent the human auditory range – expressed as dB(A)
    Time weighting – how often a reading was taken – this is either Fast (every 200mS) or Slow (every 500mS)
    Average/Leq: – the Equivalent Continuous Sound Level
    Min: the minimum time weighted recording
    Max: the maximum time weighted recording
    Peak: the maximum value reached without time weighting.

    So 72dB means very little.

    Moreover, you would expect to be shown a graph that captured the above with a level of granularity that showed hourly changes.

    What we can do is get our own readings from a few distances – say 10 m and 100 m away from a fast dual section of the A303. If anyone is interested in helping do this, contact me (you will need an iPhone) – it’s vital information whichever route you look at. Then we can apply a simple rule of thumb used by HMG:

    The sound level falls with increasing distance from the source. The principal reason is the wave front spreading and for a point source the “inverse square law” applies — doubling the distance from a point source produces a reduction in sound level of 6dB.

    Of course, when we are looking at a road, that acts as a line source of sound and not a point source and in these circumstances a doubling of distance from the source only produces a 3dB reduction in the sound. So, knowing the sound level at 100m from a fast section of the A303 at peak times (and ideally night time as well), and knowing the distance HE are proposing to site the two routes from the nearest houses, we can get a rough and ready idea of the unmitigated noise levels. Of course, that assumes no wind, which is why further work involving tying that in is needed.

    Another snippet of information from the same government publication will give a lot of food for thought:

    Remember that the effect of trees as a noise barrier is often overestimated by non-acousticians. Some noise experts suggest that a tree belt must be more than 100m thick and very densely planted before any significant excess attenuation is achieved. However, trees may have a significant psychological effect by blocking the noise source from sight when in leaf. They may also provide some masking when rustling in the wind.

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Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council