The Project Manager Reports – London Luton Airport Expansion Consultation

Luton Airport is planning a major expansion.

A Consultation Paper did not reach the Welwyn Parish Council (WPC) until 25th June 2018 with responses required by 31st August, leaving precious little time to study the associated papers and to respond.

As WPAG are co-opted members of the WPC Planning Committee we have been invited to contribute to their response.

However, the dates of scheduled WPC meetings puts pressure on the time left to respond, and the WPAG Committee will therefore prepare a separate WPAG group response.

The Consultation Documents

To read the Main Consultation Paper go to Consultation Paper and for a Summary go to Consultation Summary. Other associated documents include the Feedback Form

These are weighty papers and the WPC Briefing Paper (copied below), is recommended reading for its comparative brevity.

Individual WPAG members who would like to add thoughts and comments, are encouraged to respond directly to the Consultation.

Briefing Paper for the Welwyn Parish Council Planning Committee

The following Briefing Paper has been prepared by Cllr Bill Morris, Chair of WPC and is reproduced here as it provides a very helpful guide which will be of help to WPAG members.

Background

WPC first became aware of this consultation at their 25th June meeting.  Luton Borough Council (whose company – London Luton Airport Limited – own the airport) are consulting with those whose opinions they seek and who may be affected, about their proposals to expand the airport further and a series of public meetings has been drawn up.  The consultation runs until 31 August, with a series of 17 consultation events taking place in and around Luton between 9 July and 4 August. At these events everyone will have the opportunity to view the plans, speak to members of the expert project team, and provide feedback.  The meeting for our locality was to be held on 10 July at Oaklands College WGC from 1400 to 2000.  Given the lack of open advertisement or direct contact and our late discovery of the event, no WPC representative could attend.  Other venues and times are given on their website and members may wish to attend a more remote event.

The website contains a lot of information including proposals, consultation format and a response booklet:  https:/www.luton.gov.uk/news/Pages/Consultation-gets-under-way-on-potential-expansion-of-London-Luton-Airport.aspx

Given that much of the village, Digswell and Oaklands are under the flight paths, many residents (assuming they were aware) may have concerns.  In addition to the obvious air and noise pollution issues, there are also infrastructure questions concerning travelling both to and from the airport and the airport layout itself, when such an expansion is being considered.The Planning & Licensing Committee is invited to consider the issue and this outline reply, with regard to submission to WPC at their July meeting.  The consultation ends on 31 August, with a further round in 2019.

Proposals

Luton Airport is growing faster than predicted and is now the fifth busiest airport in the UK. At its current rate of growth, Luton is forecast to reach its existing permitted capacity of 18 million passengers per annum (mppa) in 2021.  The Council believe it may be possible to handle up to 36-38 mppa (i.e. doubling the throughput.  The major reasons for doing this, as given by the Council are:

  • There is an opportunity for Luton to play a substantially greater role in the UK aviation market, notwithstanding the proposal for a third runway at Heathrow and the proposed expansion at Stansted. (“Why not us”?)
  • Initial estimates are than there could be an increase of up to 800 new jobs for each additional million passengers per year travelling through Luton and an annual boost to the regional economy of £76m. (“Let’s see the calculations and if Herts and a village such as ours really benefits”)
  • The contribution of an expanded Luton to Beds, Bucks and Herts could reach up to £2.6bn and support up to 42,000 jobs. (as per previous statement).

Essentially this all boils down to developing the site to be able to handle a doubling in passenger numbers and presumably in aircraft numbers (large jets are the most significant, the extensive and lucrative private jet market is important but insignificant in these terms.)  This in turn means expansion or re-arranging of: runway(s), terminal building(s), aircraft hangers (servicing/repairs etc.), inter-communication within the airport and passenger transport infrastructure outside the airport and beyond.

[1] Prepared by Bill Morris, Chair WPC, following a request from Colin Hukin, Chair P&L Committee.  The author has lived in Welwyn (near QVM Hospital) for over 32 years, has flown in and out of Luton Airport on business and pleasure all of that time and still continues to do so for pleasure, twice a year.  His home is also under the westbound landing flight path.

The Project Manager Reports – the Neglected Codicote Road pathway

THE CODICOTE ROAD PATHWAY

The pathway between the area alongside the Mimram from Fulling Mill Lane to the first house on the Codicote Road has suffered from total neglect over the past 2 years.  Brambles and weeds encroaching onto the path reduced the width of the walking area to just about 1 foot for pedestrians.

WPAG’s Project Manager persuaded WHBC to strim back the overgrowth in time for the Welwyn Street Market on 16th June.  The job is only partly done – the mud and ivy, together with weed roots remain embedded onto the path and hard work with a shovel is going to be the only effective solution.

WHBC have been made aware of this and we await further information/action.

The Project Manager Reports – Water Abstraction at Singlers Marsh – an Update

AFFINITY WATER ABSTRACTION FROM THE MIMRAM NEAR WELWYN VILLAGE

Background

WPAG’s Project Manager has maintained regular contact with the Environment Agency (EA) in order to keep updated on progress in relation to the Affinity Water abstraction near Welwyn Village.

The EA wrote to WPAG in March 2017, informing us about the interim operating agreement for the pumping station agreed by the EA with Affinity Water.  This agreement was to be in place while searching for a solution to any increase in flood risk caused by permanently ceasing abstraction at the pumping station.

The agreement made a provision to maintain a small constant abstraction with the option to increase abstraction back up to 2016 levels if groundwater reached a certain level (agreed at 95.8 Metres above Ordnance Datum (mAOD)).

Current Abstraction Rate

Affinity Water are not currently abstracting from this pumping station and have not done so since April 2017.  This is because abstracting at the lower rate has not been possible due to required upgrades at the pumping station.  Throughout the period since April 2017, the existing pumps have remained in place, but they have not been used because they are unsuitable for pumping at the lower rate.  The upgrade work is now close to completion and it is expected that Affinity Water will start abstracting again at the lower rate this summer.

Singlers Marsh was very wet this Spring,  this is because of persistent rainfall since the start of 2018 and the subsequent rise in groundwater levels.

 

Groundwater levels at Lilley Bottom observation borehole are currently around 95 mAOD and have been rising steadily since the start of the year.  However, given that we are at the end of the colder wetter months when groundwater recharge usually occurs, it is unlikely that groundwater levels will rise to the 95.8 mAOD trigger level in the next six months.  In most years the peak groundwater level is reached in April or May and then falls through summer and autumn.

Flood Risk Model

The EA are still working on their flood risk model for the Mimram catchment. This has taken far longer than expected due to a number of complications and resourcing issues. This work is now nearing completion and WPAG expects to receive an update later this year.

It was always anticipated that the North end of Singlers Marsh would flood during the wet months and this has not given undue cause for concern.  It will be interesting to see whether the lower rate abstraction will have any effect on the Mimram at the Southern end of Singlers Marsh.  Memories of the dried out river bed and the loss of wildlife still remain and the area is only just beginning to recover to the state it was prior to that.

Water Resources Management Plan

With regard to the Affinity Water Draft WATER Resources Management Plan 2020-2080  consultation 19 MARCH – 23 MAY/Draft BUSINESS Plan 2020-2025 Public consultation 26th APR – 25th MAY,  concern has been expressed to WPAG by wildlife society members that Affinity may be trying to renege on their agreement with the EA to reduce abstraction. This obviously relates to the wider catchment areas of the River Mimram and other chalk streams.

WPAG’s Project Manager asked the EA for comment on these concerns.  Their response was:

We have reviewed Affinity Water’s draft Water Resources Management Plan and provided our advice to the company. The plan put forward two options for the level of abstraction reductions that will be carried out between 2020 and 2025. Our understanding is that both of these options include the previously agreed abstraction reduction for the Mimram.

One of the options did include a lower level of abstraction reduction for some other rivers in the Affinity Water operating area. Our advice to the company was to go with the plan that has the previously agreed level of abstraction reduction for all rivers. The company will provide a statement of response this summer to indicate how they have taken this advice and that of other respondents to the consultation on board.

Next Step

The EA will advise WPAG when the statement from Affinity Water becomes available and further relevant information will be posted on the WPAG website in due course.

 

The Project Manager Reports – Support the Oaklands Campaign for a Playground

THE CAMPAIGN FOR A PLAYGROUND IN OAKLANDS NEEDS SUPPORT FROM LOCAL MUMS

This is a message from the Oaklands Playground Team

Calling mums of youngsters in the Oaklands area.  Vicky Turkentine is looking for support with her campaign to establish a playground in the Oaklands area.  As you know, there is nothing for young ones at present and this is a facility that is very much lacking for local residents.

Please check out her website and help her in any way you can.  She is totally dedicated to this project and has put much time and effort into researching a suitable location.

 

The Project Manager Reports – Risks of Flooding after Abstraction Ends?

The following Report was prepared by Sandra Kyriakides, WPAG Project Manager and former Welwyn Hatfield Borough Councillor.

As you may know, Affinity Water will cease abstraction from the River Mimram this April and the Fulling Mill Pumping Stations will close.  This came about through pressure to preserve the rare chalk aquifer stream that is the Mimram, together with the fact that the Affinity licenses were due to expire.  It was not in the water company’s interest to reduce or partially abstract water and their need was greatest at a time when most damage by abstraction would be caused to the river, i.e. summertime.

During my time as a Borough Councillor, and since, I have been deeply concerned that WHBC appeared to have no contingency plan for what may happen after the closure, particularly with regard to flood risk.

Because of that, I have continued to liaise closely with the Environment Agency, Affinity Water, Herts County Council and Welwyn Parish Council to raise awareness of the need to do extensive risk assessments before the planned closure date.

I am very pleased to be able to report that the outcome of this has been to find what appears to be a workable and satisfactory solution.

The update received from the Environment Agency about Affinity Water and the Environment Agency’s plans for the abstraction from the chalk aquifer near Welwyn Village confirms that Affinity Water plan to cease abstraction at the start of April 2017.

They have worked together to come up with an interim solution to address flood risk concerns when the abstraction is ceased and have confirmed that they have an agreement in principle to keep the pumping station in operational condition after the abstraction reduction.

In order to maintain operability of the pumping station, a regular small abstraction will be necessary. This regular small abstraction is planned to begin in May 2017. This means that the EA will have the option to instruct Affinity Water to increase pumping if required for flood risk mitigation.

It is important to note that this option won’t remove the risk of flooding, but aims to keep the same level of flood risk as before the change.  In other words, the River may still flood on occasion as it has in the past, but the cessation of abstraction will not cause additional flooding.

The EA promises to continue to improve the accuracy of their flood risk modelling and to investigate alternative options to manage flood risk in the Mimram catchment. This work aims to provide a permanent way of mitigating any potential increase in flood risk, enabling the EA to fulfil the longer term ambition of permanently closing the pumping station.

Residents living near to Singlers Marsh should have no longer have cause to worry as the modelling does appear to have been both thorough and extensive.

Reducing abstraction in April 2017 is one year earlier than originally planned. This is possible because of the excellent work Affinity Water have done to put the required infrastructure in place one year early.

Due to the recent long spell of dry weather, groundwater levels are below normal for the time of year. It is therefore good that the reduction is happening this year to help protect the river if the dry weather continues over the summer.  It can take a while, however, for groundwater levels to recover so we may not see a significant improvement in the short term depending on weather conditions.  Forecasts indicate that it is unlikely that the Mimram will experience sustained high flows this year, and it is far more likely that there will be very low flows.

WPAG – Project Manager

I have recently been appointed Project Manager of the Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group and would like to take this opportunity to explain the function of this role:

As matters arise that are of concern to the area, they will be researched and details will be posted on the WPAG website, together with a summary of queries and/or comments received from residents which relate to specific issues.  I will also post updates giving information on progress, resolutions or the failure thereof.  I would like to encourage residents to write to me at: ku.gr1539765974o.gap1539765974w@reg1539765974anamt1539765974cejor1539765974p1539765974

Current issues on which the WPAG is keeping a very close eye are:

  1. Crime and Anti-social Behaviour
  2. Parking and speeding offences
  3. Singlers Marsh

 

  1. CRIME AND ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOURPetty crime and anti-social behaviour are steadily on the increase and can be witnessed on more or less a daily basis.  Local shops are experiencing frequent shoplifting by minors, there have been many incidences of abusive and unpleasant behaviour, particularly affecting the High Street businesses and houses in that area.  The latest dangerous craze amongst young boys is riding bicycles on one wheel up the middle of the road into oncoming traffic or pedestrians!The police have been made aware of what is going on.  They urge residents to report to 101 each and every incident that takes place, no matter how minorIf it isn’t reported, it didn’t happen!Please note:  On WEDNESDAY 8th MARCH, between 14:00 and 16:00, The Community Safety Partnership will be visiting Welwyn. (High Street Car Park, or in the Civic Centre if weather bad).  Crime advice, OWL signups and much more.  This will be an opportunity to make the police aware of local concerns and it is therefore really important that as many people as possible come to this event.NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH.

    One of the most beneficial aspects of living in Welwyn and surrounding areas has been the low crime rate.  This is mainly due to the very close-knit community spirit that exists and how people look out for their neighbours.  Maintaining this will help to ensure that Welwyn continues to be a safe and delightful place in which to live, and I would ask any residents who have not already done so to sign up to Neighbourhood Watch OWL (Online Watch Link).  This will enable you to receive online messages from the police about incidents throughout the Borough, as well as putting you in touch with local co-ordinators for your immediate area.  Feel free to contact me for more information.

  2. PARKING AND SPEEDING OFFENCES

    Illegal and inconsiderate parking is an ongoing problem, particularly during rush hour periods and school runs.  Vehicles are frequently parked on double yellow lines, on corners, on the pedestrian crossing and zigzags.  All of these offences create traffic jams and dangerous situations.  The perpetrators are breaking the law.  The Police and the Borough Council are equally responsible for enforcement but, due to staff and finance cuts, neither organisation is able to efficiently control the situation on a regular basis.Speeding and driving carelessly through the village are also a matter of concern.  Suggestions of a 20mph speed limit on some roads and slow down “smiley face” signs have been suggested by some residents as a possible solution.
  3. SINGLERS MARSH      

In April 2017, Affinity Water are scheduled to cease abstraction from the Fulling Mill Pumping Station on Singlers Marsh.  Through liaison with Affinity Water and the Environment Agency, I am able to provide residents with the following information:

EA asked their modellers to test the proposed changes in the Singlers Marsh area.  These were carried out on an early version of the model therefore the results are precautionary and will be improved with further modelling work.  A precautionary approach was also taken with how the interaction between the river and the groundwater was modelled, meaning that the EA approach will overstate the impact.  With flood modelling, they think it is always better to over-estimate rather than under-estimate and, with this precautionary approach to modelling, the EA predict that the River Mimram could see a small rise following the sustainability reduction.

The EA’s technical experts have reviewed the initial model results and, at this stage, believe that a negligible increase in flood risk is the most likely outcome but cannot prove or rule out a small effect on flood risk.

The EA are liaising with Affinity Water to provide an interim operating agreement that would mitigate the possible change in risk and are currently making very positive progress towards this.

The WPAG are keeping a close watch on developments; are in regular communication with Welwyn Parish Council and will keep residents notified of any significant information as it becomes available.

 

The Clock Roundabout and the A1(M) experiment – gridlock

The Danesbury Residents Association (DRA) continues to take the lead in trying to bring the authorities’ attention to the shambles they have created on the Clock roundabout. The DRA has been demanding action since August 2015.

The Welwyn Hatfeld Times, almost one year ago, quoted County Councillor Richard Smith and reported that the traffic light control that the DRA had called for, was at long last going to be installed.

But nothing happened, and following surveys of traffic flow and possible ANPR sites in the summer of 2016, (see The Clock Traffic Light Survey of July 2016) the DRA has been told that even more survey work would be needed before the scheme could proceed.

What scheme?

A recent exchange of emails between the DRA and County Councillor Richard Smith has revealed that, following the appointment of a new Development Manager by Hertfordshire County Council, the plan now is to upgrade the A1(M) between Junction 6 (Welwyn) and Junction 8 (Hitchin) to “Smart Motorway” status and to widen the carriageway from 2 to 3 lanes by using the hard shoulder.

Worse – the design phase of the scheme to upgrade the A1(M) is said to be ‘on schedule’, but work on the ground will not begin until 2019/20 for completion in 2021/22.

Has that news got anything to do with easing local Welwyn traffic problems with an interim measure to install a single ‘temporary’ traffic light?

Hardly.

It would therefore appear that Highways England’s highest priority is to keep the traffic flowing on the motorway and they are not in the least concerned about Welwyn village.

With no prospect of traffic light control at the roundabout, the DRA has decided to ask for  hatched ‘keep clear’ areas to be painted on the roundabout between the north end of the Welwyn bypass and the entry to the northbound A1(M) slip road. That should be a quick and relatively cheap project that should not distract the A1(M) planners too much from higher matters? If at least some drivers respect the hatched area, as some indeed do, then perhaps this will help to avoid the grid-lock which is occurring too frequently at both ends of the working day.

The DRA is pressing hard for a meeting of Senior Officers from both the Borough Council and the County Council, to meet DRA representatives at the roundabout during typical morning and evening rush hour periods to assess the problems at first hand.

But what should be done with drivers who exit the roundabout without signalling, and in so doing deny other car users the opportunity to make use of the gap that should have been created?

 

 

Sherrardspark Wood Warden Society – 50th Anniversary Year 2016

Who we are.

Sherrardspark Wood sits within the green belt that separates Welwyn Garden City and Welwyn village, to the West.

Sherrardspark Wood Wardens’ Society is an independent voluntary group helping to care for the woods in accordance with the management plan of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council (WHBC), which has been agreed with Natural England and the Forestry Commission with a view to keeping this Site of Special Scientific Interest in favourable condition.

Volunteer Work Parties – Home and Away

Work parties take place on both Thursday and SSPWWW Group Six Ways Dec 2010 web_1unday and more than 20 members regularly attend. The Society puts much time and effort into the work it undertakes not only in Sherrardspark Wood but also when helping volunteers at other sites in the district.

A group of Wood Wardens regulary attends the work parties organised on the third Thursday each month by the Friends of Danesbury Local Nature Reserve in Welwyn, where they are currently much involved in the work on the Danesbury Park Fernery Restoration Project. The Wood Wardens also provide regular support to the Friends of Mardley Heath who meet on the third Sunday every month..

Celebrations

The year 2006 saw the Wood Wardens 40th year anniversary. This was celebrated with an excellent picnic in Sherrardspark Wood and a Wood Wardens’ commemorative bench was erected at Six Ways, a meeting of 6 paths within the wood.

The wood wardens enjoy the social camaraderie that has been generated within its membership, and in 2011 a Wood Wardens’ Walking Group was formed which offers a monthly walk rounded off by a pub lunch.

2016 will be the Wood Wardens 50th anniversary and a busy Programme has been arranged.

Calendar of Events

The 2016 Programme can be found on the WPAG Events Calendar. But for full details of the Wood Wardens Society and all their many activities, go to the Sherrardspark Wood Wardens website.

 

The Clock Roundabout – Traffic Light Survey

The Danesbury Residents Association (DRA) has been at the forefront trying to resolve concerns about traffic congestion issues, and specifically grid-locking which was predicted would, and has arisen, as a result of two main events:

  1. The A1(M) EXIT 6 (N) slip road changes which encouraqes traffic to make a rat-run from the A1(M) Exit slip road, along the Welwyn  By-pass and back on to the 20160222_160825Motorway at the A1(M) entry slip by the Clock,
  2. The opening of the new Clock Gardens development of 50 apartments with the potential for residents’ cars to access and egress directly onto the roundabout at rush hour in the morning and evenings

The DRA have been actively pressing for a single traffic light to be installed on the south side of the roundabout, to break up the traffic flow, which would discourage the A1(M) rat-runners and allow local traffic access to the roundabout from all directions. (For the background story – see The Clock – the seconds are ticking away)

In their quest for ‘ANSWERS’ and ”ACTION’ County Councillor Richard Smith has been actively supporting the DRA. But, until recently, the DRA has been advised that there was no way that Highways England would consider placing traffic lights at the Clock. But, it seems that things might be changing!

Recently we have noticed that County Highways have been installing temporary ANPR cameras at various points on the A1(M) Exit 6 entry and exit points, and also attached to posts on all sides of the Clock Roundabout. The use of ANPR cameras enables a subsequent analysis to match rat-running vehicles as they enter and leave the system – and thereby produce the evidence we all seek.

So, what is actually happening?

County Councillor Richard Smith has come to our rescue once again, and he extracted the following note from somebody who, by the length of his Job Title, must surely know what is going on – and judging by his response to  Richard Smith – he does!

The following extract is from a helpful email dated 6th July 2016 from County Highways Group Manager Sanjay Patel. to County Cllr. Richard Smith, and relates to ‘a Survey being carried out ‘next week’... Unfortunately we have been unable to include the ‘attached plan‘ referred to, but the explanations are nevertheless very helpful.

Re: Traffic lights/ANPR Camera Survey by J6 A1

The attached plan indicates the locations of the where the surveys will be carried out and this will provide the following information that we will use for the signals design:

*       2 day Manual classified turning counts at all 3 junctions (the Clock, A1m SB off slip / A100 junction and the A1m NB off slip / B197 junction) as shown in yellow on the attached plan.
*       2 day Queue lengths at all 3 junctions
*       2 day ANPR surveys at the locations shown as open red circles on the attached plan
*       7 day ATC or video based MCC counts at the ANPR locations.

Sanjay Patel
Group Manager – Highways Operations & Strategies Intelligent Transport Systems & Development Management & Standards
Hertfordshire County Council

 

We have all seen the orange boxes and the temporary cameras and other equipment at all sides of the roundabout, and observant residents have noticed that a visual survey of traffic entering and leaving Clock Gardens and the roundabout, has indeed started. So we know that, at last, somebody has listened to us all, and at last it appears that something is happening.

But, don’t hold your breath, this is only a Survey. As soon as we hear of further actions, we will try to keep you informed.