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M5: Worcestershire

Transport written question – answered on 12th May 2011.

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Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Conservative, West Worcestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what noise mitigation measures for the M5 in Worcestershire the Highways Agency has (a) prepared and (b) implemented.

Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

In 1999 the Highways Agency prepared a list of locations on the motorway and trunk road network in England most seriously affected by noise. The list was published on 11 November 1999, Hansard, columns 681-83W. No locations on the M5 in Worcestershire were identified.

The management of noise issues is currently being reviewed as a result of the European environmental noise directive, introduced into UK legislation in October 2006 through the environmental noise regulations. The lead Department for this is the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The regulations require strategic noise maps and action plans to be prepared for urban areas and major roads, railways and airports. The mapping and action plan process is being undertaken on a five year cycle.

DEFRA published noise maps for England's roads on 16 May 2008 and the corresponding noise action plans were formally adopted by the Secretary of State for DEFRA on 15 March 2010. The action plans set out a framework for managing noise rather than propose specific mitigation measures. They have been designed to identify ‘Important Areas’ that are impacted by noise from major sources and therefore must be investigated. The action plans also require those ‘Important Areas’ that contain ‘First Priority Locations’ to be investigated as a priority.

DEFRA is producing maps of Important Areas, identifying those which include First Priority Locations and those which do not. The Highways Agency will examine these locations over the coming years, taking into account current Government policy on noise mitigation and available funding.

There are 10 First Priority Locations in Worcestershire: three between Junctions 4 and 4a, three between Junctions 4a and 5, one between Junctions 5 and 6, two between Junctions 6 and 7 and one between Junctions 7 and 8.

In the present economic climate, the Highways Agency is not able to take action for noise mitigation reasons alone but, whenever resurfacing of its network becomes due as part of the normal maintenance cycle, a material with quiet noise properties is used. No major maintenance schemes are programmed for Worcestershire in the foreseeable future.

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