Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda


Memorandum by Wynns Limited (RM 01)


  We write in reference to the above and would like to offer evidence for consideration by the Committee, in particular with regard to:

    —  the current state of repair of motorways and trunk roads, and of local authority principal roads;

    —  the steps taken by the Government, Highways Agency and local authorities to ensure that such roads are kept in good repair; and

    —  what further steps should be taken to bring roads in this country up to the best possible standard.

  Wynns Limited are Independent Transport Consultants specialising in the movement of Abnormal Indivisible Loads. Contracted to the majority of CEGB successor companies, Wynns carry out planning work for AIL movements with emphasis on environmental and strategic considerations to allow such load movements (typically around 300 tonnes gross) to be managed safely, within appropriate timescales, at reasonable costs and with consideration to the environment.


  1.1.1  The movement of Abnormal Indivisible Loads (AILs) over certain dimensions and weights above 150 tonnes gross are subject to agreement and the approval of the Secretary of State. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) regulate movements and have adopted a policy whereby road movements will only be considered where water transport has been considered not to be feasible.

  1.1.2  In 1970, the National Ports Council issued their final report detailing 13 recommendations, the majority of which remain valid today.

  1.1.3  Over 30 years later, few of the recommendations have been progressed and many of the key problem issues have deteriorated.

  1.2.1  The present Government would appear committed to at least discussing integrated transport and, very much to their credit, are making progress through the freight facilities grant (FFG) process.

  1.2.2  We agree and support without reservation Government's efforts to minimise congestion by maximising the use of water. However, since road movements are inevitably required, it is of great importance to our clients to promote their needs, these also being commensurate with national interest of maintaining and evolving both electricity supply and manufacturing industry.

  2.2.3  Following publication of the 1970 National Ports Council (NPC) Report, as referred to above, the Road Circular 61/72 was published in 1972 by the then Ministry of Transport.

  2.2.4  Roads Circular 61/72 issued guidelines on some 150 designated heavy load routes which concerned both the access requirements for the electricity industry and export routes for the manufacturing industry.

  2.2.5  Consideration in the circular was given to the recommendations of the NPC, ie maintaining structures to particular standards, ensuring new road schemes did not disadvantage heavy load routes, and the emplacement of street furniture to allow movement with the minimum of disruption.

  2.2.6  There have been valiant efforts by certain County and Local Councils to retain such important routes but there has been no co-ordinated effort by the department responsible for roads since the major user, the CEGB, was devolved.

  2.2.7  The officers of the DETR have accepted the co-ordinating role, calling for the re-establishing of the heavy load grid in 1998. However, we should like to understand why the grid was allowed to fall into disrepair.

  2.2.8  Considering certain road authorities have maintained heavy load routes and that there appears to have been no mechanism for checking that electricity sites have changed (prior to the works carried out by this company) how do those road authorities reconcile that monies invested in route retention were in fact needed.

  2.3.1  Since 1996, on behalf of clients, we have attempted to find a clear route of responsibility in respect of structure maintenance in terms of capacity. To date, despite numerous meetings with DETR officials, this issue has yet to be resolved.

  2.3.2  Without responsibility being understood and accepted, the mechanism to make payment for either upgrading or assessment cannot be agreed. This in turn prevents additional funding being asked from industry which is something we believe the Government would encourage where found fair and reasonable.

  2.4.1  Since taking on responsibility for the re-establishment of the grid routes in 1998, the DETR has achieved little, if anything, constructive to date. We would like to know why.

  2.5.1  Road Circulars issued by the DETR in 1972 give specific requirements for the standards to which structures should be built and maintained. This standard is known in engineering terms as Units of HB. For motorways and the primary trunk road network, the standard is the highest, that being 45 units of HB.

  2.5.2  Why therefore are many parts of the motorway and primary trunk road system not maintained to 45 units of HB, since in not maintaining such, AIL's are forced onto secondary roads not designed for their use. This all adds to journey distance, increased road congestion and nuisance eg the removal of street furniture.

  2.6.1  Understanding of responsibility is not restricted purely to the motorway and trunk road network but also in respect to local roads. One of our clients strategic sites is presently isolated due to the downgrading of a structure. In an attempt to establish a budget to resolve the problem we have sought guidance from the DETR Road Policy Unit. We wrote to them on 11 September 2000 and gave reminders both written and verbal on 5 October 2000 and 6 November 2000. We still have not had a reply.

T H S West

Research and Political Affairs Department

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