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Council highlights concerns over M27 Smart Motorway proposals

Concerns over the M27 Smart Motorway scheme – and an update on commitments the Council has recently received on a number of improvements, including a noise-reducing surface - will be discussed by Borough Councillors in Eastleigh next week.

The status of negotiations on managing noise pollution, safety - including the later installation of stopped vehicle detector (SVD) technology - and impacts on biodiversity and transport are the subject of a report to be considered by the authority’s Policy & Performance Scrutiny Panel on Tuesday (23 November).

Highways England have recently provided updates on a number of the issues raised by the Council, including a commitment to fund a noise-reducing surface over the existing concrete. However, questions remain over when the resurfacing work will be carried out, whether the adjoining M3 Smart Motorway scheme will include SVD in its design, the installation of additional noise barriers, and the delivery plan to achieve a net gain in biodiversity.

Over a number of years, the Council has sought improvements to the M27 – particularly in relation to noise pollution. Earlier this year the authority wrote to Secretary of State for Transport when it emerged that a previous commitment to fund a noise-reducing road surface would not be included in the Smart Motorway project.

In its letter, the Council also signalled concerns over noise and ecological issues during the construction of the Smart Motorway, the safety of the Smart Motorway when it was in operation (including the possible closure of the fourth lane until SVP is in place) - and asked that a Highways England representative appear before a future scrutiny panel to discuss these concerns.

No response was received to the Council’s letter and follow-up correspondence was sent to the Chief Executive of Highways England and the Minister for Roads. The support of MPs whose constituencies cover Eastleigh Borough was also sought.

Councillor Keith House, Leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, said: “It was extremely frustrating that our concerns about noise from the M27 weren’t addressed from the outset, and that a solution wasn’t included in the original Smart Motorways project. However, pressure from the Council has at least renewed a commitment for a noise-reducing surface, eventually, though there is still no commitment for a date. That’s despite a commitment that this work would be carried out in 2017.

“Nearby residents have suffered through the construction work and, without the appropriate road surfacing, noise will continue impact local communities until the new surface is in place. We will continue to press for confirmation of a date when this will happen.

“We also have concerns over biodiversity, impacts on local transport – and, in particular, the safety of a four-lane motorway with no continuous hard shoulder and the absence of stopped vehicle detection technology from day one. We’ll request that Highways England do not bring the new fourth inside lane of the motorway into operation until SVD has been installed.”

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