| What is the significance of transport?
Transport simply refers to a means of conveying something from one point to another. Although government policy is designed to promote anintegrated transport system that encourages the carriage of freight by rail and water, the dispersal of aggregate customers and high handling costs mean that the road transport by Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) is likely to remain the main means of transporting aggregates in the foreseeable future.
The potential effects of transporting aggregates by road range from increased congestion, noise and vibration, through to reduced access and safety. However, there are many measures that can be adopted to avoid or reduce these effects. These measures include, but are not limited to, improvements in road and HGV design, limits on vehicle size permitted to use particular roads during certain times, and the sheeting of loaded HGVs.
What are the effects of transporting aggregates?
HGVs used to transport aggregates can have significant effects on the health, environment, access and safety of those using, and living close to, roads on which they pass. Those most likely to be affected include motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, people at home or undertaking recreational activities and people in schools. The effects on them of the road transport of aggregates are considered in detail below:
- 'Intimidation' - lack of care and courtesy for other road users, aggressive and dangerous driving are potential causes of 'intimidation', all of which are exacerbated by the size of HGVs used to transport aggregates.
Aggregates being transported by rail.
- Congestion – vehicles carrying aggregates are often the heaviest and largest on the rural and urban roads that they have to use and even small increases in the traffic flow in sensitive areas may give rise to complaints. The perception of HGVs contribution to congestion is likely to be elevated by their size and visibility.
- Access – the increased presence of HGVs can affect community access by making it difficult for pedestrians and other road users to move easily from one area to another. The development of new link roads can also isolate communities through the severance of communities.
- Routing and use of unsuitable roads - the most direct route for HGVs carrying aggregates to the marketplace may use minor roads running through rural areas containing mainly private and light commercial traffic.
- Public safety - poorly laid out access points at the aggregates site, increased levels of traffic and the presence of HGVs on unsuitable roads may all pose risks for other roads users and pedestrians.
Although many of these effects are not unique to HGVs, it is generally accepted that HGVs have a much greater impact on the public highway than a private car. The term 'passenger car unit' (PCU) is used to assess transport impacts. A private car has a PCU value of 1, while an HGV has a value of 2.3 (an HGV has the potential to cause an impact 2.3 times greater than a private car) (NECESI/The Environment Practice, 2004).
The significance of the effects of the road transport of aggregates will depend on a range of factors including; the number of vehicles required to transport the aggregate; the size, weight and age of the vehicles; the timing of peak vehicle movements; the existing road conditions and capacity; and the proximity of housing, public buildings and other sensitive locations. In some areas, for example, on-street parking, narrow pavements and property directly adjacent to the highway could exacerbate congestion, safety and environmental effects.
- Damage to roads - the risk of general wear and tear to the roads and verges is often much higher for HGVs relative to other road vehicles because of their large size and weight. Damage may be particularly obvious on minor roads where other traffic is limited to private and light commercial vehicles.
- Dust and mud - fugitive material such as dust, grit and mud can be spilled from lorries or carried by their wheels and chassis onto roads, leading to increased safety risks for other road users and degradation of environmental quality in adjacent areas due to spray (wet weather) and dispersion of dust (dry weather).
- Noise and vibration - noise arises from a number of different sources including the silencer, brakes, suspension and repeated contact between the chassis and main body of the vehicle. Noise potential is increased on bumpy roads and is more noticeable early in the morning or during the night.
Aggregate lorry driving on unsuitable, narrow roads through a village.
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