Agenda item

Considerations Regarding the Harmful Environmental Effects of Motorways

To consider a Joint Report by the Chief Officer Highways & Transportation and the Chief Planning Officer which provides an overview of the relevant policies of UK Government and Leeds City Council with regard to the environmental effects of transport with specific focus on the air quality and noise impacts related to the Motorway network.



(Report attached)







The Chair introduced and welcomed Richard Crowther, Team Leader, Environmental Advisory Team, City Development.

Mr Crowther explained that this Joint Report by the Chief Officer Highways & Transportation and the Chief Planning Officer had been prepared following representations to this Committee by a Bramham resident, concerned about the environmental impacts associated with the motorway network, particularly noise and air quality within the Outer North East Community area and the policies of Leeds City Council for mitigating the impacts on local residents.

Referring to air quality Mr Crowther said the monitoring data showed pollution levels associated with motorways tend to be a greater concern within urban areas, where the background concentrations were higher due to a greater number of other contributing sources. He said in more rural areas, general background concentrations of NO2 were comparatively low and consequently only those properties which were very close to the road were at risk of exceeding the objective levels.


Members were informed that previous monitoring and assessment reviews had concluded that there were no existing properties close enough to the A1(M) within the Leeds District considered to be at risk of exceeding the objective levels.


On the issue of environmental noise management, Mr Crowther explained that noise arising from transport sources, such as Aircraft, Rail and Road vehicles operating in an “ordinary” and lawful manner was specifically exempt from being classed as a statutory nuisance. In the case of Motorways, Highways England were classed as the relevant highway authority and classed as the “noise maker”, whilst Local Authorities were classed as the “noise receiver”.


The mechanisms available for to manage road traffic noise include:

·  Use of low noise road surfacing

·  Traffic management such speed limits or vehicle-type restrictions.

·  Congestion Management.

·  Noise barriers / landscaping.

·  Provision of Acoustic glazing


Following the last round of noise mapping published in 2019, Highways England undertook to continue their previous policy of using “low noise” surfacing where there are properties identified as being exposed to the highest noise levels as a result of one of their roads. Members were informed that low noise surfacing also has the benefit of improving the noise exposure for all residents regardless of the noise levels they would otherwise be exposed to. However, low noise surfacing was significantly more expensive than tradition road surfaces and consequently, Highways England had only committed to use it when the existing surfacing requires replacement as part of normal maintenance requirements. As the “noise receiver” Leeds City Council has assessed that the policy as being reasonable and proportionate.


It was reported that in relation to the Outer North East Leeds area, 4 of the 6 lanes of the A1(M) carriageway had now been replaced with low noise surfacing for the majority, if not all, of its route north of the A64


Members asked why had all lanes of the A1(M) carriageway not been replaced with low noise surfacing.


In responding Mr Crowther said there were no properties in close proximity to the motorway at the Bramham section so low noise surfacing was not a priority. It was also reported that the existing surface materials for this section of road were also very robust.


Members referred to the East Leeds Orbital Road (ELOR) and queried if low noise surfacing would be used for sections of this road.


Members were informed this was a new road and would be in close proximity to new housing development so some mitigation measures would be introduced.


Referring to the Environmental Noise Directive, Members requested if the Committee could be informed of any proposed changes.


The Chair thanked Mr Crowther for his attendance and contribution


RESOLVED – That the contents of the report be noted.

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