Agenda Item No. 3 HEAVY COMMERCIAL GOODS VEHICLES ISSUES, SOMERSHAM To: Huntingdonshire Environment and Transport Area Joint Committee

Date: 17 April 2000

1. 1.1

PURPOSE To consider the concerns about Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCVs) using Somersham High Street.

2. 2.1

BACKGROUND Somersham High Street is part of the B1086 and forms a link between the B1040 and the B1050. As such it sits on the north/south „B‟ road route between Chatteris and the A1123 Needingworth bypass and the east/west route between Earith on the A1123 and Warboys on the A141. A plan showing these routes is attached at Appendix No 1. Concern has been expressed for many years by Somersham Parish Council and the residents of Somersham and the Somersham Traffic Action Group about the danger and nuisance generated by HCVs travelling along Somersham High Street. Their view is that the whole of Somersham should be covered by an Order prohibiting HCVs. Of particular concern has been the gravel extraction workings to the north of the village either side of the B1050.



3. 3.1

GRAVEL EXTRACTION - COLNE FEN QUARRY Colne Fen Quarry is situated to the east of Somersham. Planning permission was originally granted in the early 1960s but remained dormant for many years. In order to preserve the consent some extraction commenced in 1976 but it was not until the late 1980s that work began in earnest. Access from the quarry was (and is) via minor unclassified fen droves to the B1050 where most vehicles turn left to Earith. At the most recent count this generated 224 HCVs in 12 hours between the exit and Earith. The remaining HCV usage over that section of the B1040 in the same period totalled 152. In 1993 Mineral Planning consent was granted for an access to be constructed from the Colne Fen quarry to the B1050 to the east of Somersham. As part of this consent there was a routing agreement that HCVs from the quarry could not turn left onto the B1050 to Earith but had to go through Somersham High Street. The reasons for this were to reduce the number of HCVs using the difficult B1050/A1123 junction at Earith, to avoid the villages of Earith, Bluntisham and Needingworth and to avoid the sub-standard bridge on the B1050 immediately south of the junction with the B1086. 1




There was also concern about the sub-standard width of the B1050 to the east of the village in the vicinity of the abutments of the old railway bridge. Consequently, as part of a Section 106 agreement, the quarry owners (now Hanson) have to widen the road in that location before the new access can be used. In 1998 an application was made to extend the consent to construct the access onto the B1050 for a further two years - i.e. until 31 August 2000. This consent was granted but in doing so it was agreed to remove the routing condition that HCVs use Somersham High Street and permit the left turn movement onto the B1050 southbound. By that time the Needingworth bypass had been constructed and improvements to the bridge on the B1050 were about to be undertaken.


4. 4.1

HCV SURVEY The results of an HCV survey carried out on the B1040, B1050, B1086 and B1085 in the Somersham area have recently been received but have yet to be fully analysed. The raw information shows 85 HCVs using Somersham High Street in a 12 hour period of which 64 travelled straight through. However, there were a number of unmatched vehicles (observed going into the counting zone but not going out, or visa versa). Further analysis is needed to resolve this issue which could result in an increase in the number of vehicles, possibly by as much as 50%. For clarification, Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCVs) are those with a maximum gross weight of 7.5 tonnes whilst Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) include all HCVs but also include all vehicles with a gross laden weight of 3.5 tonnes and above.


5. 5.1

DISCUSSION There is an understandable concern from residents of Somersham about HCVs using the High Street as a through route. The factors that worry people are nuisance, noise, safety and structural damage. There have been 10 accidents along Somersham High Street between the B1050 and the B1089 in the last 5 years (not including the junctions) of which one was fatal and one serious. One of those accidents involved a HCV. Although large lorries are perceived as a danger they very often slow down traffic and it is not easy to predict with any certainty what effect a significant reduction in such vehicles would have on the accident record. A prohibition of HCVs (i.e. vehicles over 7.5 tonnes) from travelling through Somersham High Street would remove around 75% of those vehicles. With the number of HCVs using Somersham High Street being in excess of 80 per day the first two conditions of the Council‟s Heavy Commercial Vehicle Control policy (attached to Appendix No 2) are met. It may be more difficult to meet criteria „c‟ and „d‟ of that policy.





Clearly if HCVs cannot use Somersham High Street they will be distributed onto other local roads. The movements in the area are quite complex and further work is needed to try and predict what the effects would be. There will be changes to the vehicle movements at the A1123/B1050 junction at Earith and consideration needs to be given as to whether associated junction improvements should (or could) be put in place. It should be recognised that local businesses, particularly in the Earith area, could have significant additional haulage costs. These have not yet been quantified. There will also be an effect on the B roads through Colne, Pidley and Chatteris. The number of HCVs travelling between Somersham and Chatteris is relatively small. Nevertheless there will be a change and the comments of the Fenland Area Joint Committee should be sought about any proposals. At this stage it would be useful to carry out consultations in respect of introducing an order to prohibit vehicles over 7.5 tonnes from using Somersham High Street as a through route. Further work to assess the effects on other roads can also be undertaken.




6. 6.1

HILTON WEIGHT LIMIT PUBLIC INQUIRY A report on the Hilton Weight Limit Public Inquiry will have been considered prior to this item. This report should therefore be viewed in the light of the decisions made in respect of Hilton.

7. 7.1

RECOMMENDATION The Area Joint Committee is recommended to: i) support consultations in respect of a 7.5 tonne weight limit being introduced along Somersham High Street; request officers to undertake further investigations into the effect of such a ban on other roads; seek the comments of the Fenland Area Joint Committee



BIBLIOGRAPHY Source Documents 1993 Mineral Planning Consent for access to Colne Fen quarry Location West Division office Stilton Contact Officer Kevin Whiteside Traffic Management & Huntingdonshire Highways Engineer Tel: (01733) 240215




Heavy Commercial Vehicle (HCV) Control General 2.23 HCV traffic can be controlled by width, length and height restrictions but is most commonly controlled by weight restriction. The most commonly used grounds for imposing weight restrictions are; a) for environmental reasons where it is considered necessary to preserve or improve the amenities of an area through which a road or roads run; or for structural reasons to avoid danger, or the likelihood of danger to persons or traffic.




Weight restrictions may be applied to points on the highway such as bridges or other structures, short lengths of road or complete zones. The former are easier to enforce and much cheaper to sign than zonal restrictions but may not be able to achieve the objectives of an environmental scheme where it may be desired to remove unnecessary HCV traffic from a number of villages or parishes. Zonal restrictions can also be confusing to drivers who may not be aware of the extent of the zone and will therefore be unsure whether or not their destination is within the restricted area. Environmental Restrictions




Prior to considering requests for environmental HCV restrictions, surveys will be carried out to determine the nature and extent of any problem. Where a problem is considered to exist, regulation of HCV‟s by TRO will only be considered after the possibility of resolving the problem by agreeing appropriate routes with operators, or by positive HCV direction signing has been thoroughly considered. The following conditions must all exist before HCV control by order will be considered: a) a minimum number of 60 HCV movements ‟s must through the area; be made each day




at least 50% of these HCV movements must be using the route as a through route and could reasonably be expected to transfer to an alternative route; there is an alternative route available which is better suited to the passage of HCV‟s. “A” and “B” roads should be available for use by HCV‟s, except in the situation where a “B” road has a suitable and convenient alternative route along an “A” road; 4



the alternative route will not impose unacceptable additional costs to HCV operators, and a scheme can be defined that can be clearly signed, easily understood by drivers, and is largely self-enforcing.



All environmental weight restrictions will include exemptions for access for the purpose of loading and unloading goods and for garaging of vehicles within a zone. Special exemption will be allowed for public service vehicles, emergency service vehicles, agricultural vehicles and vehicles required for highway maintenance. Weight restrictions can be based on max gross vehicle weight or axle weight with the latter being used principally for restrictions on bridges. The usual restrictions are for gross vehicle weights of 7.5tonnes or 17tonnes which approximate to the previously used 3 tons and 5tons un-laden weight restrictions. Lorries over 17 tonnes have three or more axles.


Structural Weight Restrictions 2.32 Such restrictions will be made only at the request of the County Bridge Engineer.


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