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Update - Airport Project Traffic Lights (Further Questions)

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Thursday 14 June 2012

Environment Department response to media enquiry from Guernsey Press.

Guernsey Press enquiry: 

I have some further questions in regards to the traffic lights.

One of the paragraphs said: ' The Board noted that the existing traffic lights which have been put in on a short term temporary basis are not of the same specification and quality as the fixed temporary lights that should been installed for the 2 year period and hence lack the robustness and control features that should be present. The lack of these features along with defects in the lights, causing them to break down on several occasions have, without doubt, caused some of the unnecessary delays.'

Environment minister Roger Domaille yesterday confirmed that the fixed temporary lights were part of the planning conditions. He said the department could have insisted from day one that the temporary fixed lights were put up, however it was recognised that they took eight weeks to order and to put the others in place.

Why were the temporary fixed lights not ordered eight weeks before the lorries begun to come over and therefore in place for the beginning of the airport project? Who is responsible for not ordering them eight weeks before? And therefore who is responsible for causing the 'unnecessary' delays? Is it Environment, PSD or Lagan?

The story is for tomorrow's paper and therefore I have a deadline of 5pm.

Response:

Due to the scale and potential environmental impact of the airport project, an Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out. An Environmental Statement, setting out the results of the assessment and proposed mitigation was required to be submitted as part of the planning application for the proposed works.

One element of the Environmental Impact Assessment was a Traffic Impact Assessment which considered the Island-wide traffic impacts of the project during its construction phase. The Traffic Impact Assessment identified the need for a Traffic Management Plan to manage traffic on the local road network during construction. The Traffic Management Plan has been produced and is a document which is reviewed on a regular basis by a specialised team including representatives of the Police, Environment Department, Public Services Department, the Contractor and Project Team.

The Traffic Impact Assessment did specifically identify that the interface between the southside compound and the airport entrance would be key to ensuring efficient means of access for both materials delivery and airport related traffic and identified that traffic signals would be required to achieve this.

Planning permission was granted on 18th October 2011 subject to certain conditions being discharged. It is usual practice on large scale development projects such as that at the airport, to grant planning permission with conditions requiring some matters of detail, which do not affect the principle of the development, to be resolved/finalised after the main approval has been granted.

In the case of the airport, in view of the findings of the Traffic Impact Assessment, a condition was attached to the planning permission requiring the detailed specification of the traffic signals to be situated at the junction of the southside compound, the airport entrance and Rue des Landes to be submitted to and approved by the Environment Department prior to the southside compound being brought into use.

The detailed specification for the traffic signals was submitted early this year. The submission to the Environment Department explained that, in view of the length of time the temporary lights would be in place (approximately 2 years) it was considered that a full specification traffic light design solution consistent with a permanent traffic management measure would be required. However it had been discovered that there was a reasonably long order time for such units and it was requested that a temporary type traffic light solution be used in the interim so that the southside compound, which is critical to the project, could be established and used.

The Environment Department considered this request reasonable at this early stage of the project as it allowed the development to progress whilst the required lights were designed, ordered and installed. It was considered that a degree of control of the junction was still necessary and hence mobile temporary lights, as proposed by the applicant, were appropriate in the meantime. These lights are of lower sophistication than the fixed temporary lights ultimately required, however the Department took into consideration that the works at the airport were being phased in over the early weeks of the project and compound traffic would not reflect maximum haulage rates during this time.

The Environment Department agreed the detailed specification of both the mobile temporary lights and the fixed temporary lights in February 2012 on condition that the temporary mobile traffic signals were removed and replaced with the approved fixed temporary lights within 8 weeks of the installation of the mobile traffic signals.

It is not therefore a case of anyone being at fault in not installing the fixed temporary lights before operations commenced but rather a case of taking a reasonable and common sense approach, within the planning law, to allow a short term temporary solution so that a major strategic project or Island-wide importance could progress.

Contact Information:

Steve Smith, Chief Officer
Environment Department
Tel: 01481 717 200

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