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  • in reply to: Legacy Issues: How Can the Village Benefit from the Bypass? #2889

    Having spoken to a number of villagers over recent weeks, some surprise has been expressed that there might be funding available for what might be termed “legacy” issues – over and above the funding set aside for the construction of the entire A303 Stonehenge scheme. Let me assure you that this is, in fact, correct.

    A recent example of where this has been done in other road-building situations is in respect of the A14 in Cambridgeshire. Groups (Parish Councils, Charities, Sports Groups, etc) but not individuals were eligible for funding. As part of its commitment to the local community, Highways England looked to support activities with a focus on bringing communities closer together. The A14 Community Fund sought to support projects working within a range of themes such as those below:

    – Environmental improvement projects (e.g. community gardens, streetscape furniture, wildlife conservation, habitat creation, flood prevention)
    – Projects to reduce vehicle use/promote cycling, walking and other non-motorised users
    – Arts, culture & heritage projects (e.g. local art competitions, writers in residence, music and dance events)
    – Community involvement projects
    – Community safety projects
    – Community health and wellbeing projects
    – Leisure and tourism
    – Projects to develop skills, education & employment support.

    As well as working within one of the themes for the Fund, projects had to be able to define the link they had to the development work on the A14. The link NOT ONLY HAD TO BE a close geographical link but also had to describe the way the project was a response to the road development.

    For example,
    • art projects that reflect the changes to landscapes/communities brought about by the development
    • projects that build relationships in communities because of new links that the development allow
    • projects that enhance the natural environment around the development
    • training projects to enable people to gain employment on the development

    You can find more here and here.

    This is why, as a Parish Council, we are keen to hear your ideas so that we can raise them at the Community Forum, at the Amesbury Area Board and hopefully, discuss them in advance with the Legacy lead at Highways England. So over to you to put on your thinking caps.

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #2289

    This thread is now closed.

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #2180

    I think a few corrections to errors of fact are in order in response to JMD’s earlier post.

    1. Non-binary – reflects the view of villagers when the Parish Council conducted its door-stepping exercise. Some distrusted the whole consultation process believing it to be a charade, some wanted north, some wanted south, some wanted one of the longer surface routes rejected by HE early in the process, many didn’t care whether it was north or south so long as we got a bypass, some didn’t want a bypass at all and nearly all expressed the view that they wanted much more information before they felt they could make a sensible choice. Their words, not ours.

    2. During that same exercise, we told residents we were to hold a meeting where they could express their concerns about the plans. We also told all those we managed to speak to, before the meeting, that whilst we were very interested in their route preferences and would record them if they were offered (but would not make them public), we would not formally ask them as we were already aware that emotions were running high. No member of the Parish questioned this approach at the Parish Council Meeting in January, or the subsequent meeting of the Parish in the Church. No formal approach has been made to the Parish Council.

    It is true that some residents may prefer the 2005 northern route to either of those offered in the consultation by HE – I know I would, but that isn’t (currently) on the table. What I’d really prefer is a far southern route that skirts Amesbury to the south and joins up to the A36 before rejoining the A303 – that isn’t on the table either.

    That the northern lobby group came up with a very different results is interesting, but not surprising – we’ve all seen in recent months how reliable polls of this sort can be. Here is the difference between the two approaches. The Parish Council wanted to understand how villagers felt, the lobby group wants people to support their cause – both understandable, both logical, and guaranteed to get different answers.

    Just for the record, a friend in the village has expressed 4 different views on routes in the last 6 months. Last August, I started to survey opinions on hypothetical bypass routes (north, south and straight through the middle of the village) to get an early feel for how villagers felt. Back then he was firmly pro south, in late January he was firmly for the status quo, in late February he tells me that he told the lobbyists he was pro North (allegedly so he could get them off the doorstep on a cold day) and in early March he didn’t care whether they went south or north or bulldozed the High Street. I wouldn’t claim he was typical, but I don’t believe he is the only one.

    3. Now, from the outset, I’ve made no secret of my route preference. So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I have attended meetings of the pro-northern route lobby as an individual, not as a Parish Councillor. I also made the rest of the Parish Council aware that I was doing so. Cllr West has also attended these same meetings. The lobby group raised the issue of holding secret ballots with me at a meeting of the lobby group back in early February and asked about calling a Parish Meeting to initiate a secret ballot. I pointed out that a Parish Meeting was already scheduled for 20th March – after the 5th March. I subsequently advised them that if they wished to call a further Parish Meeting they would need to formally ask for this to be done, that there was a notice period of 7 days before such a meeting could be held and if the meeting voted for a ballot, there was a statutory 25 day period before it could be held. Most importantly, this wasn’t going to happen before the 5th March. Oh yes, it would also cost the villagers of Winterbourne Stoke around £1,800 to £2,000 to run and this would have to be recovered from the COuncil Tax. No formal request was ever made to the Parish Council to hold such a meeting.

    4) JMD’s claim that either I, or the Parish Council, have said, or written, that: “the village couldn’t be trusted to make the right decision”, is both untrue and offensive. Whatever decision Parishioners have represented in their returns to Highways England is the right decision for the village.

    5) The one point on which we fully agree is that: “response of local communities”… is …known to be so critical in determining the eventual choice of bypass route”. True, not the response of the Parish Council, the community – the parishioners of Winterbourne Stoke.

    As for the rest of JMD’s points, it’s probably better to read what the Parish Council actually wrote rather than rely on a somewhat selective and probably partisan view of what someone thinks was written.

    Finally, yes we do live in a democracy and if villagers don’t like the way the Parish Council as a whole, or as individuals, have acted on this or, indeed, on any other issue, then please stand as a candidate in the forthcoming elections.

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #2025

    You might think from reading these forum pages that the village only had an interest in one route, the northern one, whereas the reality is very different. Back to that in a little while. It’s worth taking a moment though to step back a little and remember that whilst everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute here on the forum, not all choose to do so. They may prefer to operate in a very different way and that is their choice. It doesn’t make their views and preferences any less important than those who choose to contribute. That said, it’s better those views are aired in one way or another, so we can all walk a mile in each other shoes.

    Now anyone who thinks this village has a simple binary view of the choice we appear to be faced with is about as wrong as it is possible to be; and then some. Yes, we have folks who prefer the southern route and others who prefer the northern route. We have those who simply want a bypass and the route is very much a secondary issue and any will do. Some simply don’t care and others seem not to be interested in having a bypass at all. Others would settle for anything that wouldn’t make their perception of road noise any worse than it is now is. Some people are voting with their hearts and others with their heads, many have an internal conflict between the two and are struggling to rationalise what to do for the best. All of them have a viewpoint that needs to be aired and questions that need to be asked.

    So, having had a large dose of one of the polar extremes views, lets look at the other. There are some very compelling reasons why the southern route would be better for Winterbourne Stoke and these do need to be dragged into the open.

    At its most basic it comes down to one of impact. You might think those living on the northern edge of the village would be pleased simply to have a bypass a bit further north than is the current road. It would reduce noise and inconvenience and look better wouldn’t it? Maybe, maybe not. Although it would be further away, there are four lanes rather than two and vehicles travelling at 70 mph rather than the 40mph of the current limit. The road runs close to many of those properties north of the current A303 and there is a monstrous viaduct running over the River Till flood plain. Because the flood plain at this point is so wide and the viaduct much higher than the roadways in previous schemes, the noise propagation would be dreadful. On the northern route there would be few opportunities to mitigate the noise, as earth berms could not be used due to the Till being an SSI. Most of these problems would not occur with the southern scheme and in any event, noise mitigation measures could be much more effective there if Highways England were prepared to install earth barriers like those used at Steeple Langford on the A36. The sound proofing there is so effective that virtually no road noise is discernible from the school, which all but backs on to the A36. Similar measures applied to the southern route would also raise the horizon, meaning it could not be seen or heard from either Winterbourne Stoke or Berwick St James. This would require a lot of tunnel spoil and possibly much more than could be employed on the northern route.

    The southern route is particularly attractive as it moves the A303 from the centre of the parish to its southern border, thereby rejoining the two halves of the village as far as high speed traffic goes. It has the huge advantage of maintaining our links with the World Heritage Site and the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, links that would be severed by the northern route.

    The northern route has some highly negative impacts on farming and other land usage. The livery at Scotland Lodge Farm would be hindered from using its traditional rides to the north and Waves Training, who have brought so many new job opportunities to the village might not follow through with further development plans. Perhaps the biggest impact of the northern route would be on Manor Farm; this would be cut in two by the northern route. It wouldn’t just be the loss of land to the road itself, but all the additional land needed for cutting and embankments. Roads like this can also generate a lot of contaminated water from fuel, rubber and salt. This can’t be simply dumped into the River Till, so more land would be needed for soakaways and reed beds to provide natural waste treatment. Farming practises with respect to the breeding and raising of beef cattle have been developed over the years to use the land, buildings and tracks to maximum effect – moving cattle between fields as they develop. Easy and rapid access to buildings, field boundaries and track ways would be inhibited by the bypass. This alone could render the current beef operation non-viable. Previous planners for a northern bypass of the village have been reluctant to even consider ways of mitigating the impact of severance on the farm, and there is little confidence that the current planners would do so now. Consequently, the southern route is perceived as the best option to ensure current farming practises can continue. If beef farming proved to be non-viable, then the farm would be forced to diversify in ways that would be unpredictable and not necessarily in the long term interests of the village, or villagers.

    Finally, we have the relative cost of the two schemes. Buried in the HE bumpf, you can find that the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) of the two schemes is different. The BCR is basically the pounds put back into the economy for every pound invested in the road. After all factors are taken into consideration, HE believe that the northern route would have a BCR of 1.7 to 1.8, or £1.70 to £1.80 returned to the economy for every pound spent. However, the southern route would have a BCR of 1.80 to 2.0. That doesn’t sound a huge difference, but on a spend of £1.385 billion the southern route could return an extra £0.4 billion.

    Hopefully, these ideas and others will be expanded on in the coming days and weeks.

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #2024

    @ 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.

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #2021

    @ 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.

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #2003

    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.

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #1990

    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 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.

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #1987

    The Forum admin team are only too aware that this subject is highly emotive and passions are already getting raised. Please be aware that we are and will continue to monitor Forum contributions and will moderate any that appear to be offensive, haranguing, trolling or belittling those who may hold a different position to your own.

    We want to capture the


    of villagers, whichever route they might favour, so that the Parish Council can represent these concerns for both routes to Highways England in a collective response.

    Regardless of this, we again implore you to make a response of your own to the consultation. Do not rely on others doing the job on your behalf. Have your say and leave formal feedback at:

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #1982

    A number of villagers have expressed concern about the height of embankments on both the northern and southern route options. Many have been told that this is to limit the slope of the road to 2% otherwise HGV’s struggle to go up and down them. Anyone who has ever used the A303 knows just how many steep dual and single carriageway sections there are, even in Wiltshire. To get this issue aired in public, I have just fired off a Freedom of Information Act request in addition to asking the A303 Stonehenge Scheme team asking for the following information:

    Please could you provide me with the maximum gradients (maximum incline or decline – eg 4%) of the current A303 between the following points:

    Beacon Hill summit to New Barn
    WInterbourne Stoke Hill to Berwick Down
    Yarnbury Castle to Deptford
    Fonthill Bushes to Chicklade Bottom Farm
    Eastern Entrance of Knoyle Down Farm (Chicklade) to the junction with the A350

    All the points described are readily discernible on UK OS 1:25,000 maps of the area.

    The information should be readily available as as some of it is being used in support of the A303/A30/A358 Corridor Enhancement.

    Answers to this FOIA request are needed in support of contributions to the A303 Stonehenge Scheme PUblic Consultation which ends on 5 March 2017

    If it is simpler and quicker, a datafile of gradients along the entirety of the A303 would be acceptable in MS Excel or CSV format.

    It would be helpful, whichever route you prefer, if you were to visit the link below and express an interest in it, link to it on Facebook and Twitter and write to John Glen MP.

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #1963

    I have today added some further information on the likely noise differences and vehicular pollution levels between the northern and southern bypass routes. The assessment was based on 5 years-worth of historical data from Janet Abbott’s excellent weather website.

    Janet’s meteorological instruments collect one reading every 15 seconds, so that’s just over 2 million per year, so in total, we have over 10 million data points. That’s pretty hard to argue against when it comes to which route is going to be the noisiest or bring most pollution into the village. Again, I must stress that this assessment is my personal view of the evidence and not that of the Parish Council – though they will be asked to consider it along with any other evidence presented.

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #1022

    @White Rabbit: I mean exactly that. We have some really bright and articulate youngsters in the village. They are the ones who are going to inherit the legacy we leave with this bypass and I feel they are more than entitled to have a say. If they are old enough to offer an opinion and can fill in an online or offline form, with or without parental assistance, then they should have that opportunity.

    I don’t want you to respond with one reply per household – I want every man, woman and child to have their say.

    Pester your spouse, annoy your partner, berate your kids, harangue your parents until they have given Highways England their views!

    in reply to: A303 Public Consultation #1020

    As the Public Consultation on the A303 Stonehenge Scheme involving a bypass for Winterbourne Stoke has begun, it seemed sensible that I should put my personal views on which bypass route I preferred into the public domain; simply as a matter of transparency. I hope that the other members of the Parish Council will do the same. For what it’s worth, I would prefer the Northern route and you can find my reason for this here.

    As a Parish Councillor, I’m not putting my personal views on display to try and influence you towards one solution or another, but so that everyone is aware when it comes to the Parish Council taking a view on the issue, that the Parish Council has taken an objective view of both options – despite our personal views. If it turns out that all the Parish Councillors share the same personal view, I would want to involve some of those who share an opposing view in a sub-committee to discuss and examine the evidence supporting both options to formulate a parish consensus.

    The emphasis here is on the evidence. The Parish Council needs to take an evidence-based view of the impact of each of these routes on the village and villagers. Even if 100% of the village was behind a single route, and I’m certain that won’t be the case, we will need to present the evidence in a well-argued and bullet-proof case in our submission to Highways England. Simply saying “100% of the village prefer the X route”, whilst evidence of a sort, is hardly compelling – we need more.

    We will also need to fairly represent substantive minority views. In doing so, we need to identify measures that would reduce the perceived negative impacts of our preferred scheme on the minority and represent those to Highway England and others.

    Even with the preferred scheme, we have seen remarkably little detail so far and things like raised embankments and high flyovers are already ringing alarm bells and we need to identify what these are for both routes and draw up a series of “red lines” with which to confront Highways England.

    So, this isn’t going to be a simple exercise of “We want the northern route”, or “We want the southern route”, we are going to need ALL the village to play its part. I also urge each and every one of you to put in a personal submission to Highways England – if you are old enough to respond, do so. This is the biggest decision you are ever going to be asked to get involved in with respect to the village, PLEASE get involved.

    in reply to: Solstice Rest #886

    Now that the Christmas chaos is over and before the New Year A303 nightmare hits with its full intensity, I popped down to the Solstice Rest to see how things are going. I met the new General Manager, Sarah Cowell, who was very friendly and welcoming. We had a chat about the pub, the village, the website (naturally) and the future impact of the A303 and the Stonehenge World Heritage Site on all of us.

    Rather than steal Sarah’s thunder, I’ll leave her to add something to this Forum., but it is worth me saying that I was really encouraged by some of the ideas she has.

    OK, the decor, both internal and external, doesn’t and won’t suit everyone. The external is clearly done for the shock effect to attract the passing trade. Internally, I am sure a “house-style” will emerge in time. Beer prices do seem to be closer to the London average than the Salisbury average (£4-50 per pint rather than £3.50 – according to the Numbeo price comparison site. However, I don’t have a clear idea of prices in other local rural pubs in the area, so this comparison may not be valid. Does anyone know?

    And I’ve left till last the thing that struck me first and that was how welcoming Sarah and her kitchen staff were and how attentive they were to customer needs and how flexible they appeared. As they say, first impressions count.

    in reply to: Internet Speeds #875

    My current download speed is about 2.06Mbps. Upload is around 0.37Mbps with a ping time (latency) of around 23ms. I spend quite a bit of time trying to maximise and stabilise it. There are a few others with significantly faster speeds (around 3Mbps) around the village but many with slower speeds.

    It’s always worth complaining to your ISP if your speed drops. It’s better to do so online ((Twitter) if you are with BT as you tend to get a response within minutes. Better still, the response is usually from the UK and not an Indian call centre whose staff rarely actually understand broadband and simply work their way through a checklist, regardless of your problem.

    We’ve put a link to a good speed checker in the Village Directory if you want to check your own speed.

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