Memorandum by Wynns Limited (RM 01)
MAINTENANCE OF MOTORWAYS, TRUNK ROADS AND
LOCAL AUTHORITY PRINCIPAL ROADS
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
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
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
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
T H S West
Research and Political Affairs Department