The Petition of residents of Peterborough constituency,
Declares that Network Rail have upgraded the continuous railway line adjacent to North Werrington; further that Network Rail estimate that there will be substantial increases in freight traffic through the village of up to 23,360 additional trains per year; further that no mitigating measures have been offered to reduce the significant increases in noise, vibration and pollution created by the increase in freight traffic; and further that a local petition on this matter was signed by 582 residents of North Werrington.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to enter into discussion with Network Rail to discuss and agree plans to introduce noise mitigation measures such as the erection of acoustic timber fencing and plans to fit secondary glazing and/or acoustic trickle vents where required for properties adjacent to the train line which runs through North Werrington; further request that the House urges the Government to encourage Network Rail to put in place plans to plant an evergreen tree belt to help absorb particulates emitted by diesel locomotives; and further request that the House urges the Government to ask Peterborough City Council to consider a reduction in council tax for those properties which will be directly affected by increases in freight traffic through North Werrington.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Stewart Jackson, Official Report, 9 December 2014; Vol. 589, c. 840.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:
I recognise the concerns that local residents may have about the prospect of increased rail freight traffic through North Werrington. However, the developments that Network Rail is undertaking on the Great Northern/Great Eastern Joint Line through Lincoln will benefit both freight and passenger services, by reducing the need for rail freight services between Peterborough and Doncaster to use the East Coast Main Line. This will provide scope for increased, and more reliable, passenger services on the East Coast Main Line while retaining the ability of the rail freight sector to compete effectively with road haulage—in turn reducing congestion and pollution on the road network.
The Joint Line is, of course, already in daily use for both passenger and freight rail services and there is therefore no automatic obligation upon Network Rail to introduce noise or particulate mitigation measures for increases in service levels. Nonetheless, if, over time, the development of the line leads to a demonstrable increase in noise, vibration and pollution for local residents, there is guidance available on Network Rail’s website at http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/1030.aspx on how to raise concerns. The Department will, however, write to Network Rail to ensure that the company is aware of local residents’ worries about the possible impacts.
I am afraid that the responsibilities of the Department for Transport do not run to the determination of council tax levels. This is a matter for Peterborough City Council. In line with the Coalition Government’s commitment to localism, Ministers and officials have no remit to intervene in the day-to-day affairs of local authorities except where specific provision has been made in legislation.