The proposed intensive poultry unit at Frochas Farm will need to be serviced by 44-tonne trucks (HGVs), possibly daily, and this could be at any hour of the day or night. Obviously, that would dramatically increase traffic congestion and pollution on roads through and around Welshpool.
Who Will Pay for the Road Maintenance and Damage to Verges and Hedgerows?
The single track lane, off the A490, leading to the proposed broiler is 1.3 miles long. The lane is unclassified and unnamed and currently provides access to the hamlet of Groespluen, Kingdom Hall Church, residential properties, the local horticultural centre and gardens at Dingle Nurseries and Gardens, and farms. The lane is currently used by private cars, HGV delivery vehicles to local farms and garden centre, other trade vehicles, walkers, churchgoers on days of worship and cyclists. The vast majority of vehicle movements takes place during the daytime.
The lane has no sidewalks and there are stretches with no verges and there is no street lighting. There are hidden dips and the passing points are generally inadequate for large articulated vehicles. The width of HGVs supporting the IPU would be greater than half the width of the road, and the length of these long vehicles exceeds the length of the passing bays. Total road blockages will be created and are unavoidable. It is also understood that feed delivery articulated vehicles frequently tow trailers creating even higher risk of vehicle conflicts.
Existing traffic flows peak in spring/summer months when customers visit Dingle Nurseries and Gardens.
Current traffic conflicts and incidents on the lane are not infrequent and generally result in cars reversing a significant distance in the direction of oncoming traffic until the nearest passing point is reached. This is clearly illustrated in the video below, which occurred very close to the proposed site entry point.
This is a particularly dangerous manoeuvre after dark and in winter months on an untreated icy surface. The environmental assessment (EA) submitted as part of the application for the IPU refers to nighttime HGV movements occurring throughout the year to remove poultry stock from the units.
The additional HGV traffic flows associated with the IPU are not uniform with vehicle movements peaking at the end of each broiler cycle. The applicant’s environmental assessment acknowledges that the lane is busy at times, then uses this observation as a justification for more large, heavy vehicle movements.
In view of current traffic usage and the additional large vehicle movements associated with the IPU on this narrow, unlit lane with no footpaths, conflicts between HGV traffic and other road users are inevitable. As a result, conditions will be created where the risk of accidents would be increased. Traffic conflicts between two or more large HGVs will effectively lead to road blockages and potential damage to verges and hedgerows as large vehicles try to pass or reverse to a passing point.
There are also major concerns regarding access and response of emergency service vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines. The site will be prejudicial to road and public safety.
The Service Road Junction with the A490
The lane leading to and from the proposed IPU is accessed from the A490 at a junction close to the hamlet of Groespluen. The national speed limit applies and the unlit junction is staggered either side of the A490.
The junction suffers poor visibility for both north and southbound approaching traffic due to hidden dips and bends on the A490. Over the years, it has been the scene of several road accidents.
It must also be highlighted that the service road access at the junction is inadequate for HGVs as evidenced by the damaged kerbs and verges. Large vehicles exiting this junction have difficulty turning either north or south without crossing the white lines in middle of the A490, presenting a hazard to oncoming traffic, particularly after dark. The junction is totally unsuited to safely handling increased flows of HGV traffic.
Additional HGV Movements Generated by the proposed IPU at Frochas Farm
Taking into account the limited farm area available for spreading, the applicant’s estimate of manure/spent litter produced per IPU crop cycle, DEFRA permitted field spreading rates and manure from existing cattle/sheep, a significant number of vehicle movements will be involved in transporting manure off the site to other fields or to an anaerobic digester.
A delivery or collection equates to two HGV movements, one inward and one outward. The number of HGV movements per crop cycle are as follows:
- Bedding – one delivery per cycle in a 23 tonne vehicle = 2 vehicle movements
- Chicken Delivery – 3 deliveries per cycle = 6 vehicle movements
- Chicken Removal – much larger and heavier birds will be removed in two stages during the crop cycle, half at 35 days, half at 42 days. 18 collections are estimated per cycle = 36 vehicle movements
- Feed – 530 tonnes of feed per crop are required, delivered in 28 tonne capacity HGVSs = 40 vehicle movements
- Dead stock – collected once per week over a six week cycle = 12 vehicle movements
- Manure and spent litter removal – undisclosed – but will total 297 tonnes per cycle. It is conservatively estimated that at least 60% will need to be removed from the farm to the digester or other fields If removed in 25 tonne covered vehicles a total of seven collections will be required = 14 vehicle movements.
- LPG – 1 tanker delivery = 2 vehicle movements
- The number of additional HGV movements will total at least 112 per cycle, at least 7.6 times per year. In addition, there will be regular vehicle movements associated with plant maintenance, vets and plant cleaning. Not an insignificant increase as claimed in the application DAS.
The total actual vehicle movements involved in manure removal are unclear from the applicant’s EA. In the worst case of total manure removal from the IPU site, additional vehicle movements could be more than 1,000 per annum.
The narrow service lane is not suited to safely cope with the increased flow of large vehicles, particularly after dark and in the final two weeks of every crop cycle.
HGV movements to and from the IPU will be routed via the A483 (according to Roger Parry & Partners). Access to the A490 will take vehicles through Welshpool town centre via the one way system. Following a public consultation, works intended to improve public safety in the centre of Welshpool are due to start in mid-2019.
The additional traffic associated with the IPU will only serve to aggravate town centre congestion and safety problems. The large diesel fuelled HGVs will be a source of added particulate and nitrogen dioxide emissions impacting on pedestrians, shoppers and residents living close to the one way system, particularly the elderly.
Some of the HGV movements are planned to occur during the night when the IPU units are being emptied. The noise and disturbance would have a detrimental effect on those residing on the route between Frochas Farm and the A483. The depopulation of the units occurs at intervals between 22:00 and 06:00 every fifth and sixth week of the broiler cycle. The intermittent vehicle noise would be likely to cause sleep disturbance.