Thursday, 24 August 2017

Queues of over 100 vehicles from cattle crossing makes AI’s plans unworkable

Photo © Bill Boaden (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Whilst this is a scene from elsewhere in the country - it does show the impact of cows. We’ve mentioned the B3174 and the cows at Straitgate Farm before: the bovine movements and the number one thing that AI had to answer.

Aggregate Industries' plans for Straitgate Farm would remove over 100 acres of pasture. Replacement pasture would therefore be needed to maintain a viable farm, so that unquarried land could be kept in production, and so that farming could be resumed as quickly as possible post extraction - if there’s to be any hope of restoring this best and most versatile farmland. To that end:
To supplement the grazing needs of the tenant’s dairy herd it will be the intention of the applicant to provide a new dedicated route for cattle from the existing milking parlour at Straitgate Farm to the land south of Exeter Road.
In our response we wrote:
There has been no assessment of the impact of the cattle crossing on traffic and the functioning of the B3174. Around 150 cows would need to cross the main road into and out of Ottery St Mary four times a day for replacement pasture. The Transport Assessment has not assessed this, nor has it assessed it cumulatively with the additional HGVs - up to 200 a day - that the applicant proposes.
DCC’s Regulation 22 request had said that for any cattle crossing:
No calculations were forthcoming; AI wanted things dealt with post determination:
The issues raised over signage will be dealt with under the detailed design and the Stage 2 Road Safety Audit that would be necessary following any grant of permission. 1.8
It’s now clear why.

If AI doesn't want to do any calculations, we can do some for them.

We have the traffic counts for the B3174, here and here, performed by Highways England over a two week period in 2015; these were provided to the Council by objectors to replace the fictional count supplied by AI. Highways England's figures showed almost 60% more vehicles than AI had claimed.

The cattle crossing would close a 60mph stretch of the B3174 for up to 20 minutes at a time, 4 times a day, year round, over 10-12 years. Our calculations have focused on weekdays, and assumed only 15 minute closures to reflect the monitoring periods in the traffic counts. We've also assumed that the current milking times of 7am and 4.30pm, for a duration of 1.5 hours, would be maintained.

The 2015 counts obviously exclude traffic generated from the new developments in Ottery St Mary. They also exclude AI’s planned HGV numbers - up to 1 every 3 minutes.

The impact that we have calculated from the cattle crossing is therefore best case; calculations can be found here. What do we find? During the 15 minutes crossing times, over 100 vehicles can be travelling on the B3174 Exeter Road, in one direction or the other. If we assume an average queuing vehicle length of 7.5m, including gaps, this means that traffic queues could stretch to the A30 Daisymount Junction and half way to Ottery.

This obviously creates huge safety implications, as vehicles back up towards blind parts of the road.

Clearly nobody has thought this through. Or if they have, they've chosen to keep quiet. Remember, DCC was only days away from determining this application.