New noise row over rail bridge

Now bid to re­lax noise rules made

Stirling Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Kaiya Mar­jorib­anks

Rail­way bosses are press­ing for rules to limit noise from the Kerse Road bridge works to be re­laxed, just weeks af­ter se­cur­ing plan­ning per­mis­sion.

Net­work Rail is al­ready seek­ing to change a plan­ning con­di­tion im­posed by Stir­ling Coun­cil in a bid to pro­tect res­i­dents of Nel­son Place from noise.

The orig­i­nal con­di­tion said that, un­less oth­er­wise agreed with lo­cals, con­struc­tion works which could be heard out­with the site bound­ary could only take place within nor­mal work­ing hours – 8am-6pm Mon­day to Fri­day and 9am-6pm on Satur­day – and none on Sun­days and Bank Hol­i­days.

The com­pany ar­gue that the con­di­tion is un­rea­son­able and un­duly re­stric­tive.

They are seek­ing a re­place­ment con­di­tion which states: “Un­less oth­er­wise agreed in writ­ing with the lo­cal plan­ning au­thor­ity, the con­struc­tion works shall only op­er­ate be­tween 7am and 7pm, with the ex­cep­tion of works which com­prise start-up and close down ac­tiv­i­ties, lay­ing foun­da­tions, works in­volved with lift­ing in the pro­posed tem­po­rary bridge, pil­ing works and other works which re­quire pos­ses­sion of the rail­way.

“In the case of those ex­cep­tions works are not to be car­ried out for more than 60 hours within any 100-hour pe­riod.”

Net­work Rail ar­gue that this would al­low the works to be un­der­taken safely and road clo­sures kept to a min­i­mum, while “pro­tect­ing the ameni­ties of res­i­dents in Nel­son Place”.

Res­i­dents, how­ever, are wor­ried by the prospect.

House­holder Michael McCal­lum, a fa­ther of two chil­dren un­der the age of four, is ex­tremely con­cerned by the po­ten­tial long-term dam­age to the phys­i­cal and men­tal health of his young fam­ily.

He said: “Net­work Rail have ef­fec­tively cho­sen to to­tally ig­nore the fair, per­son­cen­tred con­di­tion which was orig­i­nally im­posed by Stir­ling Coun­cil.

“Read­ing Net­work Rail’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion closely, they have ef­fec­tively placed no re­stric­tions on their work­ing what­so­ever and in­tend to do what­ever work they be­lieve to be nec­es­sary at night.

“The pro­posed vari­a­tion takes no ac­count of the sub­stan­tial dam­age the pro­posed de­lim­i­ta­tion of noise would do to the life of res­i­dents.

“As Stir­ling Coun­cil has pre­vi­ously im­posed the con­di­tion in its orig­i­nal form I would sug­gest the coun­cil­lors, who have care­fully con­sid­ered the ap­pli­ca­tion, fully un­der­stand the risks of night­time noise and are try­ing to pro­tect res­i­dents from its ef­fects. For that I am grate­ful.

“There is a very con­sid­er­able body of re­search avail­able which makes it clear that even rel­a­tively short-lived night­time noise, to the de­gree sug­gested by Net­work Rail, can have life-long ef­fects on the health of those af­fected, in­clud­ing heart dis­ease and men­tal ill-health.

“Even Net­work Rail’s own noise im­pact assess­ment by Mor­gan Sin­dall is clear that noise lev­els at night in Nel­son Place would be ex­tremely high for much of the works.”

In a sub­mis­sion with the ap­pli­ca­tion Net­work Rail’s Teresa Jack­son said the con­di­tion would be “prob­lem­atic”.

She added that a num­ber of el­e­ments of the pro­posed work re­quire tem­po­rary closure of the rail­way for safety rea­sons, which for op­er­a­tional rea­sons could only be un­der­taken overnight over the course of a week­end, which is not pos­si­ble un­der the cur­rent con­di­tion.

“Other ac­tions are also re­quired to be un­der­taken out­with th­ese times in or­der to main­tain the pro­gramme and al­low flex­i­bil­ity re­gard­ing un­fore­seen is­sues,” said Ms Jack­son.

She said dis­cus­sions had taken place with coun­cil plan­ners and en­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cers in a bid to re­solve the is­sues be­fore Net­work Rail came up with the pro­posed change.

Even short-lived night­time noise can have life-long ef­fects on the health

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