Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12100
12100. CHAIRMAN: Sir Keith, does the
traffic on Westway cause a lot of trouble? It is at a very high
level above the ground, and therefore I would have thought it
had an impact on you.
(Sir Keith Bright) It does, indeed, and there is an interesting
point here. If you take a line at right-angles to the Westway,
the noise impact is much less than if you are along the Westway.
Perhaps I can just explain: if you take a walk along the canal,
which runs parallel with the Westway, the cumulative effect of
the traffic coming along the Westway in a line is devastating.
The noise can be heard at least, I would think, for probably nearly
half a mile, because the Westway veers off at an angle but the
cumulative noise of all the traffic coming along before it veers
off is pushed down the canal. So the people who live near the
bridge near Sainsbury's supermarketI am not sure I know
the detail of which bridge I am talking about on there
12101. MS LIEVEN: Sainsbury's is well
off to the left, my Lords. It is not on this map.
Bright) Is it not? Anyway, perhaps I can just continue. It is
the build up of noise linearly that is much more serious than
noise at right-angles to the Westway. There is no question that
noise levels would be improved if the Westway itself could have
some sound barriers put along it. I understand that cannot be
done because the structure of the Westway would not take it. That
is hearsay, that is not definite evidence. So the Westway noise
is a totally different sort of noise; it is almost like white
noise; it just permeates the whole of London, actually. If you
go several streets away you still hear this swishing noise, but
it obviously goes off. There is one basic rule that I think everybody
should bear in mind. There is something called the "inverse
square law" which means that the noise drops off in a parabolic
fashion from the sources of noise. So the further away you are
from the source of the noise the more rapidly it dies away. The
swishing noise does go on for quite a long way. It is a different
frequency and does affect the ears in a different way, but my
main point is if you are on a line where the motorway is travelling,
the added effect of all the traffic from the noise of the wheels
on the road down that line is devastatingly awful. I do not know
why there have not been complaints before. Perhaps one final thing
to say is if you get the right surface on the road (and I suspect
this is not the right one) you can reduce noise levels by well
over 50 per centand nearer 70 per cent if you have the
right road surface. You can probably tell this from your own car
if you drive along on different surfaces: suddenly the noise in
the car changes as you go to a more modern surface from an old
12102. CHAIRMAN: It is usually a combination
of the wheels, the tyres and the surface of the road, is it not?
(Sir Keith Bright) Entirely. The noise
of the engines is quite small, unless you are driving a racing
car or something like that. Nevertheless, that is entirely so.
12103. LADY BRIGHT: The Westway is due
to be resurfaced, we understand.
Bright) I understand that, yes. You understand that.
12104. We have not got the detail but it is
Transport for London's job and their schedule. Again, it is the
sponsor's job to do it and if it is resurfaced with a proper new
surface, as it should be (and we do not know the specification
here), it could make a massive difference in the noise environmentanother
factor which needs to be taken into account when a detailed noise
study is done.
(Sir Keith Bright) We shall be making
representations to the Mayor of London to get that effected.
12105. LORD SNAPE: You have lived at
your present address for some years, Sir Keith, have you not?
Can you tell me how many years you have actually lived there?
Bright) We moved there in 1982. I think you visited us in 1983.
12106. I was not going to tell my colleagues
that! I hope there is no significance in the fact that you have
not invited me back! In 1982, when you moved there, the Westway
was, of course, open, was it not, and probably nearly as busy
then as it is now?
(Sir Keith Bright) Yes.
12107. You knew when you moved there that you
were moving into a house that overlooked the busiest railway station,
or the busiest terminal station, on what was then the western
region of British Rail.
(Sir Keith Bright) One of the busiest,
12108. As we have heard from Lady Bright in
her opening remarks, the high-speed trains that operated in and
out during the 1980s, as they do now, were then engined by Paxman
Valenta engines, which are considerably noisier than the ones
that they have been replaced with. Is that right?
(Sir Keith Bright) That is right.
12109. I have just done a quick calculation
of the number of train movements in and out (I cannot say it is
100 per cent accurate but I share a railway background with yourself)
but it is something like 12 high-speed trains; eight local diesel
multiple units, eight Heathrow Expresses, two Heathrow Connect
trains, the odd freight train that we have heard about and the
empty stock movements necessary in and out of a major terminal.
Those are the train movements that take place, and yet it appears
that your case, and the residents' case, that despite all that
and despite the Westway, life will be intolerable because of the
addition of 24 of the most modern, electrical multiple unitswhich
you and I both know are much quieter than any of the trains that
I have just mentioned. Is that an unfair summing-up of your case?
(Sir Keith Bright) It is not an unfair
summing-up at all. The reason why people moved there, as Lady
Bright mentioned, is because there is a green lung behind the
houses; the gardens are marvellous. In actual fact (you will probably
remember) in my house what we have done is filled barriers between
the two houses on either side to reduce the noise in the back
garden, which has been very effective. The noise in the back garden
is very good, as you well know.
12110. I have actually forgotten everything
but the excellent food and wine! I do not remember hearing any
background noise from the trains, I might tell you.
(Sir Keith Bright) Precisely. That is
one way we had of dealing with important transport people from
the House of Commons at the time. It is not the front of the house;
it is the house itself, which is very spacious and very good for
bringing up a family, and the back of the house, which is delightful,
as you know. We have taken measures ourselves to stop the noise
coming between the houses, which has been enormous. There is,
however, a fact now that I think has changed things, and that
is the enlightenment of politicians throughout Europe of changing
legislation and a change in what is acceptable as noise levels.
That has changed the whole situation now, and I do believe that
we will have support from politicians generally that the total
noise levels are too high. That noise-mapping that we showed was
something over 75 decibels. That is enormous. The whole point
about a noise barrier that I was mentioning is that a 3-decibel
reduction halves the noisehalves the noisefrom a
barrier a metre-and-a-bit high. I shall leave that with you. That
will affect the front of the house and, of course, the back of
the house as well.
12111. Do not think for a moment, Sir Keith,
that I do not doubt that it is very noisy because of the cumulative
effect of the trains I have mentioned and the Westway behind,
but the point I put to you is do you think that that noise will
be considerably worsened by the passage of these 24 modern EMUs
on the tracks that are almost as far away from your road as they
could possibly be?
(Sir Keith Bright) Not as far as they
could possibly be because the other side of the motorway would
be very good and you would probably hear nothing from us under
those circumstances. No, I think the cumulative effect is important.
It is the compression of the air, the airwaves, that do build
up and make it beyond the point which is, I think, acceptable.
Quite frankly, sir, we do not know; until it is measured we really
do not know. We are talking mainly of theoretical possibilities
and we want to make sure that whatever happens in the new legislation
we can fight it.
12112. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: A
question, Sir Keith, on the wall. Is there any prohibition on
building on the wallany listing?
(Sir Keith Bright) Not that I know, no.
12113. Have you done any estimates of what the
likely cost would be?
(Sir Keith Bright) Yes, we have an estimate
from a Dutch company. They think about £90,000 will cover
the length of the wall, I think, if it is about a metre-and-a-half
high. By the way, if the barrier is angled the effective height
is greater, do you see, than the actual height. So if it is angled
slightly this way you do not have to build quite such a high barrier.
12114. CHAIRMAN: That was why it was
curved in the first place, no doubt.
(Sir Keith Bright) Yes, possibly. I do
not know about that. On the railway side it is straight; it is
only on our side it is curved.
12115. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: Have
you made any approaches to Network Rail previously to get some
installation of barriers?
(Sir Keith Bright) Many, and they refuse
to talk to us at all.
12116. LADY BRIGHT: We do have another
witness on that, if it helps.
12117. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much.
The witness withdrew
12118. LADY BRIGHT: Perhaps I could clarify
the point about Network Rail that was helpfully raised. They refused
to talk to us until the Bill is through Parliament, so we have
not got any communication going directly with them. We do communicate
directly with Crossrail; we are part of the liaison group and
there is a consultation process, but it is our concernand
this is part of the information from government lawyers, perhaps,
to tell us what the situation ishow that consultation will
continue. We do not know if Network Rail is going to be named
the nominated undertaker for the overground station, do we, but
we want to make sure they are all covered by the same codes and
that there is consultation directly with them.
12119. CHAIRMAN: You have the last word
in this. Let us see how things progress, shall we?
8 Crossrail Ref: P79, Westbourne Park-Crossrail proposals