Will freight zone end the noise nightmare for villages near Leighton Buzzard?

A 'freight zone' is being devised to tackle the noise and vibration "nightmare" of HGVs rat-running through villages near Leighton Buzzard. Ways to stop lorries using rural roads around Cheddington, Ivinghoe and Mentmore to cut across the country are being drawn up by Buckinghamshire County Council.

Ivinghoe Freight Zone map

Residents have for a long time expressed concerns about the effect of the lorries on their homes and other buildings in the area as the vehicles thunder through narrow streets, with comments from villagers including "when a lorry goes by, my pictures fall off the wall". Road safety and air quality fears have also been highlighted.

The scheme envisages an environmental weight restriction at entry points to the zone which will be east of the A418, north of the A41 and west of the B489. The 7.5 tonne limit would restrict HGVs to 'access only', and prohibit lorries over this weight from passing through. Proposals will be presented to parish councils, business and community groups in an area-wide public engagement and appraisal programme shortly and will include public drop-in events at Wing village hall on Wednesday, March 4 (2pm-7.30pm) and at Ivinghoe Old School Community Hub on Thursday, March 5 (2pm-8pm).

Will freight zone end the noise nightmare for villages near Leighton Buzzard?

Paul Irwin: Relieving a nightmare for residents. Ivinghoe Freight Zone

A public survey on the Your Voice Bucks website https://yourvoicebucks.citizenspace.com/highway-projects/ivinghoe-fz-survey has also started.

It runs until Saturday, March 14 and invites people to feed back their comments. Surveys in November 2019 showed that 254 HGVs a week simply passed through the proposed 'freight zone'. That represents 47% of the total HGV traffic in the area.

Paul Irwin, the county council's deputy cabinet member for transport, said the proposed environmental weight restriction 'freight zone' would: > Reduce the impact of HGVs on residents, buildings and the environment > Minimise unnecessary traffic on local roads

> Maintain access for HGVs to homes and businesses within the zone > Redirect HGVs driving through the zone to more appropriate routes, such as A and B roads > Support local business to thrive, including farms, shops, pubs and restaurants

> Allow access to buses, farm traffic and public service vehicles He said: "We want to work with parish councils, residents and local businesses to shape these proposals to relieve our residents of a noise and vibration nightmare they tell us has been affecting their lives for many years. "I don't believe a total HGV ban will work, because it would necessarily include essential vehicles, like buses, fire engines and refuse vehicles.

"I'm keen to hear everyone's view on these plans, which I believe take a balanced approach giving residents respite, without disadvantaging businesses within the area. After all, these firms employ a good number of people who live locally and they contribute significantly to the local economy." On the issue of enforcement, the council admits: "Enforcement of certain moving traffic offences like the breach of a Traffic Regulation Order is the responsibility of the Police and the Trading Standards, as a local authority we have no powers to enforce.

In today's economic and social climate they are having to focus resources on offences against the person, such as doorstop fraud and protecting the vulnerable. But the council points out: "During our work with Central Bedfordshire Council we investigated their approach of proactively engaging with haulage and truck operators to alert them to pending weight restrictions and the promotion of more suitable routes. Results from this supportive approach suggests that up to 80% of traffic not servicing the local area left the zone without the need for prosecution."

The Ivinghoe 'freight zone' proposal forms the first of five schemes inspired by the countywide freight strategy, compiled during the past couple of years from analysis and feedback from local communities on volumes of HGVs. Once the survey findings have been compiled, the council will publish an update and, if it's decided to go ahead with the plans, make any amendments and then draft Traffic Regulation Orders. These will be subject to formal public consultation and so there will be a final opportunity to comment.

At the same time Transport for Bucks will repair and strengthen Ivinghoe (Brownlow) Bridge, which carries the B488 across the Grand Union Canal. Structural surveys last year showed the 200-year-old listed bridge, which currently has a temporary 18 tonne weight restriction, was no longer capable of carrying 40 tonne loads. Following ecological surveys, checking for possible bat activity, the bridge will be repaired and strengthened in the autumn at a cost of GBP100,000, which would allow vehicles over 18 tonnes access to the local area.

Details of the proposed 'freight zone' can be found on the County Council website at https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/transport-and-roads/transport-plans-and-policies/freight-strategy/ivinghoe-area-freight-engagement/
> Will it work?

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