26th Sep, 2020

Highways England blasted for lack of action over M5 noise and air polution

Harry Leach 27th Dec, 2019

A COUPLE have blasted Highways England over its ‘disregard for climate change and air pollution’ after several trees were felled near their home.

Wychbold residents Peter and Judith Hood, who live on Walkmill Drive near Junction 5 of the M5, claim in the last few years air pollution levels have ‘tripled’.

The trees were felled when the M5 was made a smart motorway in 2017, increasing it from six lanes to eight.

Peter said: “Before the change large, mature trees ran alongside our home and the M5 and helped reduce pollution and noise.

“Once they were demolished – and after many complaints from the community – Highways agreed to plant new trees.

“But they were planted in completely different locations and not of the same quality.

“Debris was also left where these magnificent trees once stood, making it an eyesore.”

The pair said Highways England’s showed a ‘total disregard for consequences in the area’, adding a small barrier put up outside their home to screen the M5 was ’30ft to small’ and ‘insufficient’.

They added M5 traffic was now visible from several windows in their house and noise levels had dramatically increased.

Judith said: “Sometimes we are even unable to speak to hear each other over the noise.

“If this type of activity is taking place around the country, and indeed the world, what chance do we all have in the future?

“We appreciate work has to be done but surely consideration should be given to replacing, if not increasing, any trees or plants which are removed?

“Our daughter has also been diagnosed with asthma recently and we are very concerned this may have been the cause.”

Highways England told the Standard it took its environmental responsibilities very seriously and remained one of the largest tree planting organisations in the UK.

“When we cut back or fell trees it is only where necessary to allow us to install or maintain infrastructure essential to improve journeys or keep people safe.

“During the M5 smart motorway upgrade between Bromsgrove and Worcester it was necessary to remove some trees on the embankment near Walkmill Drive.”

Highways added it had installed a noise barrier, a new low noise road surface and carried out extensive replanting, including evergreens.

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