Wye Ruin It?

Wye Ruin It?


Questions to Council for Dec 14th - Deadline Mon 11th 5pm

  • Next Council Meeting is on •14 December 2pm, Shire Hall, Hereford
  • Likely deadline for questions is 5pm on Monday Dec 11th
  • Follow this link to submit a question: https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/info/200148/your_council/61/get_involved/3

Research into the documents/analyses carried out by the council and/or any 'independent' consultants they have employed to date clearly shows:

–Inadequate traffic modelling

–Unrepresentative pollution analysis

–Unrealistic capital cost figures

–Bogus cost benefit analysis


We have prepared some typical questions below for consideration at the public meetings. We recommend that the more cutting questions be reserved for attendees as their secondary questions to demonstrate the inability of Council Cabinet and its planners to answer simple requests.

Q1. Could the Council please address the fundamental flaw in the traffic modelling for Hereford detailed in on the Transport Strategic Phasing Study 2014 by JMP Consultants Limited where no account is taken of the M5 M6 motorway relief traffic volumes?

Q2. When the SATURN traffic modelling was last updated for Council, did the inputs ASSUME NO M5 M6 motorway relief traffic would use the A49? We ask because the model outputs show no significant impact despite traffic being X10 greater on the M5/M6.

Q3. According to the Transport Strategic Phasing Study 2014 by JMP Consultants Limited, the Highways Agency’s Route Based Strategy evidence report (February 2014) identifies the A49 link between the A438 and A465 as the 77th most unreliable on the strategic road network in England. The complexity and inefficiency of this road junction was compounded when Council granted permission for a supermarket and fuel station on the junction. This a serious mistake by the planners, will the same strategy be repeated on junctions when the bypass is designed?

Q4. The Council was presented with the facts about the pinch points on the A49 with the A438 and A465 as the 77th most unreliable on the strategic road network in England by Highways England in 2014. Despite this, the Council permitted large commercial developments on the worse junction in Hereford to further compound traffic problems. This has already cost businesses millions in lost time. Why should we trust you and your consultants on the traffic modelling when you have compounded city traffic congestion for years?

Q5. Can the Council confirm if the traffic disruption to flows caused by the recent development of the new supermarket and fuel station at the A49/A465 junction is included in the projections used in its SATURN traffic modelling of Hereford congestion? 

Q6. The proposed Hereford Relief Road construction would result in a minimum of ten years traffic disruption from construction equipment, building access roads and subsequent house building projects. How can the public trust SATURN traffic modelling used to forecast traffic flows when it does not incorporate time losses during construction of roads and housing estates and TUBA analysis excludes potential losses to existing business?

Q7. Herefordshire planners have lost the confidence of the public over inadequate capital controls and poorly executed developments. Capital budgets are expected to escalate with changes in scope and mitigation costs when approaching full design. Why would the road building proposed be any different in terms of budget controls, a design fit for purpose and the management’s ability to deliver a project on time and on budget?

Q8. Who advised the Council as lead consults on the ill designed location of the supermarket and fuel station at the A49/A465 junction and would the same consultants be used to advise Council on the Bypass junctions, services and access roads?

Q9. Council informed the public at its last public Cabinet meeting that it will not consider trams or light rail as a mass transit system to reduce city congestion. How can this decision be justified when the last in-depth report commissioned by the Council in now 16 years out of date and the Councillor for infrastructure fails to acknowledge this fact?

Q10. Reams of data produced by the SATURN traffic modelling are used to justify the introduction and timing of the road development plan but none have any mass transit solutions incorporated to reduce the single purpose journeys like school trips and commuters. How difficult is it to run a scenario that incorporates modern mass transit designs in place of the highways for trucks vans and cars?

Q11. Public mass transit systems for cities are required to meet certain investment returns to justify construction but rarely do so for medium sized towns. Often the required investment capital does not generate enough financial benefit when analysed under the current planning rules. Why then are roads being constructed without including the full healthcare costs associated with pollution, human  mental and physical ill health and documented increased levels premature deaths, absent from a sustainable mass transit system?

Q12. When will the planning regulations relating to the cost estimates for developments in full business plans be required to include the full long-term costs, such as the full healthcare costs associated with pollution, human mental and physical ill health and documented increased levels premature deaths?

Q13. When will the planning regulations relating to the cost estimates for developments in full business plans be required to include the full long-term costs, such as the environmental costs associated with pollution, loss of habitat and loss of biodiversity?

Q14. Public mass transit systems for cities are required to meet certain investment returns to justify construction but rarely do so for medium sized towns. Often the required investment capital does not generate enough financial benefit when analysed under the current planning rules. Why then are roads being constructed without including the full environmental costs associated loss of habitat and biodiversity, CO2 emissions and climate change, absent from many sustainable mass transit options?

Q15. In Hereford’s Transport Strategic Phasing Study 2014 by JMP Consultants concluded the evidence to date indicates an intervention is required by 2027.  It was recommended that the half moon relief road should be in place by 2027 at the latest. Has this date been brought forward to reflect the increased congestion on the A49 A465 junction following developments of a fuel station and a supermarket?

Q16. How will Council’s consultants make the business case for the relief road using Transport Business Case development guidance and other guidance before a full cost analysis is available for the total project?

Q17. What is the expected level of accuracy in the capital cost estimates for the total relief road construction, ie plus or minus 50%, at the current stage of the project and will it be incorporated in contractual terms to include more accurate estimation as the project progresses?

Q18. It was proposed that the value for money assessment be based on an outlined Benefit /Cost Ratio based on TUBA analysis and that more detailed analysis will be required to develop the economic case within the Outline Business Case. Will this still be the case and when will the analysis and the traffic models be made available for public scrutiny? Will it be based on the same misleading  model of traffic flows?

Q19. Did the Western Relief Road corridor assessment include in-depth environmental analysis or was it managed like the environmental surveys for the Southern link Road?

Q20. Will the Council’s consultants be using the proposed TUBA transport economic appraisal software based on the inadequate SATURN traffic modelling data to generate another bias result for each section of the road?

Q21. Will the transport economic appraisal system used to evaluate the value for money of the relief road proposed be updated to include the increased cost of healthcare from road pollution for the inhabitants of the proposed new estates evidenced, by higher levels of premature death and increased incidence of ill health adjacent to busy roads?

Q22. Will the current Cabinet be accountable for the decision to build new roads close to and upwind of new housing estates when the increased cost of healthcare from road pollution, evidenced by higher levels of premature death and increased incidence of ill health adjacent to busy roads is finally incorporated into the planning process?

Q23.Did the risk workshop attended by Council and its key consultants to understand risk to deliverance cover issues of rising healthcare cost and elevated premature death rates related to  airborne and waterborne road and motorway traffic pollution or just mitigation issues to reduce the range of fall out?

Q24. It is stated on page 26 para 5.2 of the Hereford Transport Strategy Phasing Study that The Wye Link section of the relief road is primarily designed to make the Three Elms site more attractive to investors. Is there any limit to the capital that will be allocated from government funds to enable the development of an inappropriate flood zone over an important aquifer surrounding its special protection zone?

Q25. The value for money criteria base on CO2 analysis is inadequate if the full impact of M5 and M6 motorway relief traffic over the long term is excluded from the data modelled. Can the council confirm in writing that the increase in motorway relief traffic using the A49 and its resultant pollution will be included in all future TUBA analysis?

Q26. The monetary value (in present value) for greenhouse gases has been produced through TUBA analysis undertaken for the Wye link. This is the net present value of the change in CO2 emissions from road based fuel consumption that is in the non-traded sector. What does the analysis of the traded sector look like and would it negate development when motorway relief traffic is included?

Q27. If the value for money calculation of CO2 emissions included the loss of trees and the increase in motorway traffic over the life of the road would it still result in a positive value? Did Council ask its consultants to address this question?

Q28. It is a well-known fact that present value analysis fails to capture the value of very long term projects of 30-60 years. In fact, any impact greater than 15 years out shows little value on the bottom line in current money. Why then, do the Council and its planners persist in using inadequate methodology in evaluating the long term effects of CO2 emissions?

Q29. There is something very fishy about a CO2 analysis of road traffic emissions that excludes emissions from the traded sector. The TUBA analysis of road traffic pollution is both inaccurate and disingenuous to the public if it excludes the traded sector HGV traffic flowing through the A49 in relief from the M5/M6. When will the Councillor for Infrastructure understand and address this issue?

Q30. The financial analysis of the CO2 emissions over 60 years is an outright disgrace. It would not be acceptable in a private investment process and is clearly a disingenuous approach to presenting data to the public. Governments, advised by merchant banks used multiple methods to evaluate long term financial returns because the discounted cash flow or present value method fails to capture value beyond 15 years. When will Council address this issue?

Q31. The reliability tests for the proposed road on contribution towards journey time reliability and capacity of transport links, analysis using the Hereford Saturn model has indicated journey time will increase 8% by 2032. This SATURN model clearly excludes effects of the Motorway relief traffic and is therefore inaccurate and misleading. How does the Council propose to address this misleading analysis?

Q35. This development is facing risk of legal proceedings that could likely to lead to substantial delays to the implementation timescales. Please quantify expected extra legal costs and time delays.

Q36. Please can Council explain how it might now gain public acceptance for this scheme given its poor transparency of the technical and financial decision making, inadequate responses to questions, its disastrous planning decision on commercial developments over the A49/A465 junction, Blue School Office cost fiasco has generated a lack of trust in its management?

Q37. The public reports state that the value for money terms this road link provides very high value for money (BCR is greater than 4). How much lower is the value for money BCR if the extra healthcare cost over 60 years for ill health and premature deaths are included in the equation if the full traded pollution and the motorway relief HGV pollution is included in the TUBA analysis?

Q38. How can the Council accept legal responsibility for this decision making when the assumptions are so obviously bias towards roadbuilding by its consultants?

Q39. The consultation with the public is considered to be inadequate given the questionnaires were prepared and collated by interested parties. Conflicts of interest and a poor decision making process have marred the process from the start and remain open to legal challenge. Will the Cabinet personally accept legal responsibility for the increased healthcare costs, environmental destruction and poor returns this scheme will generate when full life of project costs are calculated?

Q40. The capital cost for the Western link are estimated as an outline cost of £42.864 million with a quantified risk estimate of £23.792 million giving a total cost at this stage of £66.656 million. The Wye link is therefore the most expensive individual link within the relief road. This is a result of both its length and the need to bridge the River Wye. May we assume these figures will increase 100% like the Blue School House Refurb or 25% like the City Link Road as the mitigation and legal costs escalate?

Q41. This whole relief road is likely to have a relatively complex build. There is a need to cross the River Wye, a rail line and a former canal. In addition the issue of power lines and high pressure gas pipe is likely to cause issues in terms of the construction plan. This project is an infrastructure consultants dream in terms its earnings potential from changes in scope and mitigation costs. What can the Council do to fix costs? What is the budget for Balfour Beatty’s time spent on it?

Q42. This Council approved planning permission for developments that compounded the congestion on the Greyfriars Bridge when it grant approval for the supermarket and fuel station. How then can it be trusted not to increase A49 congestion with M5 M6 Motorway Relief traffic in National interest while destroying the local environments of Herefordshire and Shropshire?

Q43. If Councils consultants say ‘jump of the bridge’ would Council jump? No? Then why does Council accept inadequate traffic modelling that is clearly lacking in full analysis of both motorway relief traffic and construction delays from both road and house building?

Q44. Must the public accept the misleading traffic user benefit analysis (TUBA) results based on inaccurate traffic modelling and inadequate financial tools just because it is generated following planning policy and current guidelines or will the Council have the gumption to question the results using informed and independent analysis?

Patricia Ronan