Uncertainty remains over Inland Border Facility

December 16, 2020 11:00 PM
By Cllr Tim Martland

There are still concerns and uncertainty about the Inland Border Facility at Appleton Thorn despite recent changes to the proposals. The facility will operate round the clock from 1st January. At last week's Warrington Borough Council meeting, Lymm Parish Councillor Tim Martland asked a Public Question about the impact of the facility on surrounding roads and on noise and air pollution.

Tim MartlandTim says: This week I also attended a Zoom meeting with HMRC organised by my Parish Council. Many questions remain unanswered and the Cabinet Member admitted that a lot of details were yet to be worked out. Plans for monitoring traffic flow are more or less in place but how air quality and noise pollution would be affected is less clear.

The Council's response to my question mentions vehicle movements of around 700 a day. This is for lorries using Liverpool and Heysham. From the Parish meeting with HMRC, it now appears they have changed their minds and most of the traffic will involve Holyhead. This has the advantage that daily traffic would reduce to around 300 vehicles. It is also said that the site may not need to be in operation for so long but could close in months not years. So, anyone getting a job there might be employed for a very short time.

The reduced number of 300 vehicles would still mean 600 movements a day. Many of these vehicles would use Poplar Services on the other side of the Junction 20 dumbbell roundabouts. There is a planning application for a fuel bunker at the nearby Lymm Truckwash which would generate more traffic. This is all a recipe for traffic chaos and disruption to journeys for local people. Even when traffic levels are normal, let alone when numbers increase, this junction can be very busy. Roadworks are planned on the M56 and M6 which will slow traffic, not accounting for accidents and closures.

HMRC's Operational Management Plan is not yet finalised with just two weeks to go. The Council has been given very little time to prepare for the imposition of this Facility. Assessments of the potential impact on air quality and noise are inadequate. There is a plan to check Nitrogen Dioxide in one unspecified location, but minimal additional resources have been provided by government. Whether the Government, HMRC or the Council pay for the various mitigation measures is still up in the air. Who has the power to enforce traffic offences is also unclear. Residents have every right to be concerned.

Tim Martland is a Liberal Democrat campaigner and Lymm Parish Councillor