It agrees with campaigners who have fought for more than ten years to upgrade the A40 between Abergavenny and Raglan from concrete to tarmac.
A number of people living near the road submitted evidence to the Committee describing the impact of traffic noise:
- “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.”
- “We appreciate that the road was in place when we built here and accepted the level of road noise at that time. However, the volume of noise on the concrete surface, especially of heavy vehicles, has increased beyond imagining and is now at an unacceptable level.”
- “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.”
Letters from successive Welsh Government ministers in 2013 and 2014 were presented to the Committee suggesting that plans were in place for the road to be resurfaced when budgets allowed.
A more recent submission by the current Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Ken Skates AM, said there were no plans to resurface the road, but instead identified one section around Raglan that would benefit from noise reducing barriers rather than resurfacing.
Further questioning by the Committee uncovered a survey commissioned by the South Wales Trunk Road Agency, the government arm responsible for maintaining the trunk road network in south Wales.
The survey stated that noise barriers would be a “simpler and less disruptive solution in the shorter term.” However, whilst it did not examine the condition of the road in any detail, the Committee noted its statement that “the existing condition of the concrete carriageways is questionable and that a full reconstruction would be the only satisfactory long term solution.”
“The Committee heard compelling evidence from the petitioners and local residents about the misery they are suffering as a result of road noise from the concrete A40,” said David Rowlands AM, Chair of the Petitions Committee.
“It is not clear what changed substantially between assurances from a government minister in 2014 and the change in stance from the incumbent minister.
“We accept that maintenance works can only take place when budgets allow, but ten years is a long time to wait and, with a prediction that traffic levels on that stretch of road will only increase, the situation is not set to improve.
“This cannot go on and we implore the Welsh Government to look at this as a matter of urgency.”
The Committee makes one recommendation in its report:
“We consider that the case has been made for the need for mitigation works along the stretch of the A40 covered by the petition. The Welsh Government should implement measures to reduce the impact of noise on local communities as a priority. Given there will soon be a need to carry out a full resurfacing programme on this road, we believe that serious consideration should be given to scheduling the replacement of the existing concrete surface at the earliest opportunity.”
The petition submitted to the Petitions Committee collected 22 signatures, however a petition on another platform collected more than 142.
The Petition stated: