Visit to the M6 Project Office 6th June 2016
Present: Kate Beirne (Highways England) and Julian Wilson and Dave Smith (who are both part of the Carillion Kier Joint Venture) and Richard Hocknell, Rachel Hurst and Mike Hodge (Cranage Parish Council).
The M6 Project Team recognise that communication is key and try to work on “the basis of no new surprises” and try to inform affected properties by letters, emails, newsletters and the Highways England website when there are noisy operations at night, particularly when unusual or irritating sounds are involved e.g. reversing bleepers.
The M6 Team has been asked to consider changing the way it intended to deliver the smart motorway upgrade so as to restrict the maximum length of roadworks in place at any one time.
This would mean delaying the start on works between junctions 17 and 16 until work between junctions 19 and 18 was largely complete, but this is still to be confirmed.
Works are planned to minimize disruption to both road users and residents, but there are some activities that can only be carried out safely at night and night time closures will be required.
Work on the verges between J18-19 is due to start in Sept 2016 and will continue to Sept 2017.
There are two Emergency Areas on the stretch in Cranage, one northbound between Middlewich Road and Kings Lane and on the southbound section, the refuge will be north of the stretch of Kings Lane that abuts the motorway. Mitigation to reduce current noise is under consideration by the Minister with a decision expected in about 2 weeks. However, the members of Cranage Parish Council present deduced that this proposal is unlikely to be approved for the following reasons.
- Cost. It is estimated that a length of 5.2K (wooden or plastic acoustic fencing is proposed) would be required to affect a 3k length of motorway (because of the way that sounds travel and would add £millions (unspecified) to the budget.
- It is considered to be poor value for money with a rating of 0.5 i.e. £1 spent would provide a benefit of 50p (a value of 2 is normally considered viable).
- It is very possible that the government would consider that approval in Cranage would set a precedent for other areas.
It also has to be recognised that some trees would have to be removed to provide access for plant machinery to install fencing.
There are no plans to mitigate pollution but the M6 Project Team consider that the long term future of vehicles i.e. better fuel consumption, more electric cars and the expected reduction in speed on the smart motorway during busy periods will contribute to a reduction in pollution.
We (the representatives of Cranage Parish Council) felt that discussions were reasonably open.
Residents affected by the M6 may not be happy with the answers we were given but in our opinion, there is an attempt being made to be as considerate as possible during the construction phase.
It should be noted at the Sandbach Depot they are intending to recruit 30 apprentices (locally if possible) who will receive their training and experience during this phase of Smart Motorway construction.
 Dave Smith was about to retire and is being replaced by Sam Maidment and Dave Clegg.
 MH has subsequently been informed that the Minister’s letter has been delayed.