Written evidence from the Middleton HS2
Action Group (HSR 57)|
In responding to the general invitation to submit
"evidence" to assist the enquiry into HS2, Middleton
HS2 Action Group have submitted it's concerns on the impact of
noise (your section 6.2) to emphasise the importance and to request
that a full and proper enquiry is undertaken. Looking at the evidence
produced so far, it is far from clear that proper consideration
and research has been done on this vital element.
Clearly this is an area which is only pertinent to
those on and close to the route and, along with visual impact,
should be a major consideration comparable to the findings of
the benefits or otherwise of the business case and other countrywide
arguments. It is essential therefore in determining the pros and
cons of HS2 that noise and visual impact is taken into account.
The main issues are:
1. Speedexcessive, inflexible and uncompromising
at the proposed 400kph/
2. RouteThe inflexibility of the route
allows for no compromise to allow curves in the track to avoid
villages and rural homesteads and businesses.
3. Landscapethe inflexibility means that
it is not possible in many areas to mitigate noise to an acceptable
and aesthetic level, owing to the landscape determining the vertical
alignment. This means that in many areas (like Middleton) the
tracks runs at ground level or on embankments and viaducts which,
apparently, cannot be changed, decreasing the ability to effectively
4. Compensation - how can compensation for tranquillity,
peace and quiet be adequately determined and how will it be applied?
5. Lack of evidence of work done on limiting
noise impact for all areasnot just a choice few.
We are not engineers and this submission does not
seek to add technical data, assuming that this will be readily
available and easily accessible from far more experienced sources.
This submission aims to highlight concerns pertinent
to all residents and businesses in rural areas that are directly
affected by the rail track in the trust that these will be taken
2. MAIN ISSUES
Speeds of 400kph in a small country are not necessary.
The high speed designed to save minutes on journey times are of
little value when end to end journey times is what matters.
proposed along the route is a mix of speeds ranging from 350-400kph
suggesting "brakes on/acceleration on" scenario causing
even more noise at those pinch points.
higher the speed the greater the noise from aerodynamics and track
noise, not to mention the wearing away of the tracks.
Due to the speed, the uncompromising route whilst
devastating the countryside and wildlife creates unacceptable
levels of noise, particularly in rural areas.
Without any compromise in the curvature of the track,
the track inevitably runs close to rural conurbations where the
impact of noise would be greater than those say, living in urban
areas or towns. People choose to live in rural areas for peace,
quiet and tranquillity. Tranquillity attracts residents, visitors
and promotes tourism. Devastating this would have a huge impact
on these communities and could greatly affect the economy of the
area. Areas to be impacted would be the following:
businesses such as animal and equestrian centres, hotels and conference
centres, small business units, golf and leisure parks.
The potential noise change of HS2 if not effectively
mitigated at source, will impact greatly on the reasons to live
in and work in a rural community.
For these rural communities currently enjoying noise
levels of 50dB, a 'US' source indicates that 59dB not 73dB
is the maximum noise level to avoid severe impact.
The impact of noise the new line creates needs to
be considered in the context of the location. The quieter the
area the greater the impact.
Inevitably, the lack of inflexibility with the route,
landscape determines to a greater or lesser degree the vertical
and horizontal alignment. In some areas the route has been tweaked
to accommodate an improved visual or noise impact. This "tweaking"
only goes to highlight that in other areas that have not been
"tweaked" it is either not possible or, more likely,
has been considered not economically justifiable to accommodate
the real requirements of others. This is simply not fair.
HS2 Ltd have stated noise mitigation at source has
been looked at and addressed in 108 miles of the 140 miles of
track. That leaves 32 miles where noise mitigation has not been
How can we ensure compensation is given fairly to
all those affected by noise or blighted over the lifetime of the
railway, not just the first year of operation?
In the first year of operation it is understood the
plan will be to run the trains at lower speeds (so less noise)
and that the timetable will not reach full frequency for some
considerable time. So less peak noise made by fewer trains per
day than the planned final capacity will equal a low average noise
in the first year, precisely the timescale indicated for calculating
The case for determining the impact of noise in the
communities and any compensation needs to be carefully investigated
and we would respectively suggest cannot be made on arbitrary
max or average noise levels
The potential noise change of HS2 if not effectively
mitigated at source, will have a devastating effect on these communities
who currently enjoy little or no noise. It is not acceptable to
simply consider that noise can be mitigated by insulating dwellings/properties.
This does not allow people to have open windows or to enjoy the
outside and reduces the ability to use their gardens. Quality
of Life will be severely affected. This is unacceptable.
Noise mitigation needs also to be aesthetic. It is
simply not acceptable to lay unsightly 3 metre or 5 metre high
Also to be taken into account is the effect noise
levels have on health. In noisy atmospheres there is stated a
potential for higher number of cases of stroke and heart attack
From an extract from Science News it has been gleaned
that 'no other environmental hazard comes anywhere near the effects
of noise and air pollution. The most dramatic effects are in heart
disease because noise has been shown to raise blood pressure and
increase concentrations of stress hormones and fatty materials,
even when people are asleep. These can accumulate over
time to block blood vessels and trigger a heart attack.
No compensation can allow for that.
2.5 Lack of Evidence
Information from the US document "High Speed
Ground Transportation Impact Assessment" produced by the
Federal Railroad Administration (www.fra.dot.gov/pages/167.shtml)
has enabled the data overleaf. Average noise is cross referenced
against the government's own PPG24. That suggests that anything
above 66dB is deemed uninhabitable and a problem whereas HS2 Ltd
assures us that it is only above 73dB that it is an issue. Clearly
this is an area of contradiction and one which goes against established
policy. This needs investigating.
It seems wholly irrational if not preposterous, that
based on such figures HS2 can suggest only:
dwellings along the entire route will experience high noise.
would be likely to experience noise levels which would qualify
for noise insulation.
would experience noticeable noise change.
Little comfort is offered that an appropriate scheme
to assess the noise level damage is being undertaken and there
does not appear to be anything for assessing trains at speed of
400kph, with all references being 360kph.
HS2 NOISE CALCULATIONS18 TRAINS PER
|| Single train pass|
PPG MAP BASED ON "AVERAGE" NOISE
OTHERS ON WHAT IT MIGHT EQUATE TO AS THE TRAIN PASSES
|Existing Leq (population 300 to 999) 45dBA
|Interstate Highway with 4 or more lanes that permit trucks, with traffic at 60 mph (ie Motorways)
|Distance from road||Leq
|254 and up||50
|B||Noise should be taken into account when determining planning applications and, where appropriate, conditions imposed to ensure an adequate level of protection against noise.
||55 to 66|
|C||Planning permission should not normally be granted. Where it is considered that permission should be given, for example because there are no alternative quieter sites available, conditions should be imposed to ensure a commensurate level of protection against noise.
||66 to 74|
|D||Planning permission should normally be refused.
|UK Government Noise Insulation Regulations 1996
||limit 300m||HS2 high noise 73dBA
|Jackhammer||88dBA at 50 feet
|Bus||80 dBA at 50 feet
|Lawnmower||70 dBA at 50 feet
|Possible stroke risk||60 dBA
|3m barrier-5dBA||8m barrier-10dBA