(Title Image: Monmouthshire Beacon)
Petition P-05-690 “Resurfacing of the A40 Raglan– Abergavenny Road” (pdf)
Submitted by: Cllr. Sara Jones
Signatures: 162 (across two separate petitions)
Published: 31st October 2018
This has to be one of the strangest/most esoteric reports I’ve published from the Senedd, but I can’t pick and choose what AMs decide to write reports on. It also ties in somewhat with the Economy & Infrastructure Committee’s recent report on the state of Welsh roads.
The reason why this petition was submitted to the Assembly as opposed to Monmouthshire Council is because trunk roads (including the A40) are the responsibility of the Welsh Government.
1. The Trunk Road Agency know that the road is noisy
A ten-mile section of the A40 between Raglan and Abergavenny has a concrete surface rather than tarmac, and there are similar sections of road in Cardiff and the Neath Valley. The South Wales Trunk Road Agency (SWTRA) commissioned noise assessments at all three sites and designated homes near them to be “priority areas” for a noise-reduction plan.
No work has ever taken place and is dependent on Welsh Government budgets, despite assurances from as far back as 2014 (by Edwina Hart) that the A40 was a priority and that a resurfacing programme would possibly take place in 2015-16.
The Economy & Infrastructure Secretary, Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South), said there were no plans to resurface the road as the concrete surface isn’t “life expired” and laying a low-noise surface would be disproportionately expensive – a shift in stance compared to previous years. The Welsh Government have proposed installing a noise barrier as an interim measure, but this has been rejected by residents.
2. There are concerns the situation will get worse
Here’s a selection of some of the comments the Committee received:
“The noise from the road is constant throughout the day and during the night until 3am when it stops for roughly an hour.”
“Almost every night we are wakened between 4-4.30am when convoys of HGVs use the road, and find difficulty in getting back to sleep. This is particularly bad on Monday mornings.”
“We live […] in a well-insulated house with triple glazing, but are still aware of the increasingly loud noise of the A40 […] When we built the house we were able to sleep with windows open, use our balcony and garden without undue stress. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.”
Residents are worried that once A465 dualling work is completed and it becomes a more attractive route between western Wales and the English Midlands, the situation will get worse.
3. The surface isn’t as good as the Welsh Government think it is
The Committee concluded that:
“The Cabinet Secretary (Ken Skates) has consistently stated that the existing surface of this stretch of road is not life expired, though the 2015 (SWTRA) study indicates that the condition of the three concrete dual carriageways in Wales is questionable and that resurfacing represents the ‘only satisfactory long-term solution.'”
The Committee’s only recommendation was that the situation was so bad that it warrants noise reduction works “as a priority” and that resurfacing should be considered “at the earliest possibility”. They also shared the “frustration” of local residents that the Welsh Government’s 5-year noise pollution strategy is going to go out for another round of consultation.