Call our Sales Team on 0208 912 2120


19th June 1970, Page 52
19th June 1970
Page 52
Page 52, 19th June 1970 — topic
Noticed an error?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.

Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Seen but not • heard

by janus

RGANIZATIONS that have been zealous in their opposition to proposals for bigger or heavier lorries may have anticipated strong support from a White Paper with the promising title "The Protection of the Environment". The cause seemed to be one that they had made their own. The Government would at last be moving into the contest between the ancient monuments and the Juggernauts.

Expectations of this kind have been disappointed. The White Paper does not so much as mention the size or weight of vehicles apart from the observation that some are heavier than others. Operators and vehicle manufacturers may take some comfort from this. At least the White Paper will not provide much ammunition for a further attack on them in the Sunday papers. , Enemies of the lorry may also take some little comfort from the fact that the sub-title "The Fight against Pollution" may have limited the theme. They will not be mollified. They claim that there is a direct ratio between the heavy lorry and more noise and smoke as well as more accidents. It will take more than a few pages in the customary Civil Service language to convince them to the contrary. The suspicions of Ministries and of official research will only be strengthened by the reassurance that, in the words of the White Paper, "it should be possible to produce heavy lorries which make no more noise than the average ear today". If lorries can be made less noisy one excuse for attacking them will no longer exist.

FROM another point of view noise seems the odd man out in a White Paper where the other items covered are pollution of the air, of the land, of fresh water, of sea and beaches and by radioactivity. Petrol fumes or diesel smoke, it can be argued, may have a permanent effect on the environment. For the most part the effect of a noise dies away with it.

In spite of this the White Paper treats noise as a pollutant like any other. It is still surprising, therefore, that the chapter on pollution of the ear, entitled "Pollution by Noise," should not be followed by one on pollution of the eye and indeed of the other senses. Clearly the presence of too many vehicles or of vehicles above a certain size can be just as deleterious as the noise they make. The lesson operators may be tempted to draw from the White Paper is that they should be seen but not heard.

With some reservations they are entitled to feel encouraged. In spite of the agitation aroused by the mere hint that lorries would be heavier the Government evidently do not see the relevance of the subject in a discussion on protecting the environment. A negative inference from the White Paper is that the Government, without directly admitting it, has accepted the need for heavier lorries.

Political observers may already have noticed the skilful use the Minister of Transport has been making of the Parliamentary question and answer. While pointing in the direction he wishes to go, he manages to create the perpetual illusion that he is reluctantly bringing up the rear and doing his best to rein in the impetuous hauliers and vehicle manufacturers.

Environmental considerations, especially those arising from the size of lorries, are not being ignored. There are streets or areas from which lorries are excluded except possibly where a delivery has to be made on the spot. A possible extension of this kind of ban may be found in the report of the Ministry of Transport working party which is at the moment looking for a site for a lorry park somewhere near Manchester.

THERE is a serious intention to provide one or more parks as models to be copied all over the country at a later stage. Whatever the practical difficulties the Ministry seems anxious to choose sites on the periphery of large towns or conurbations. It is envisaged that the heavy trunking vehicles would go no farther. Smaller vehicles would take over for the ultimate delivery in the centre of the town.

Such a scheme would mean that, in addition to parking, catering and accommodation facilities space would have to be provided for vehicle transfers and even for storage and warehousing. Formidable problems would arise of cost and security as well as of space, The Ministry still thinks the idea worth following up in view of the safety and amenity benefits. Operators naturally are more aware of the difficulties.

They should be pleased at least that the subject is ignored in the White Paper. Solution of the problem of vehicles fighting for inadequate road space will not be helped by linking it with the fight against pollution. On the twin problems of vehicle noise and fumes, however, there is something encouraging to say; and operators will find the White Paper helpful.

Perhaps its authors are taking a risk in stating boldly that as a result of the introduction of the new noise regulations in April last "the trend towards increasing noise has already been halted". The permitted noise level for lorries is now 89

dBA for motor cycles 86 dBA and for cars 84 dBA. What the Wbite Paper does not explain fully is the extent to which these maxima are enforced or can be enforced.

Vehicle design and manufacture can no doubt be controlled fairly easily. There is also to be a noise check as part of the annual test of heavy goods vehicles. These two safeguards should have a satisfactory effect on lorry noise. The White Paper gives the Government's long-term aim, "in which they expect to obtain the willing co-operation of the industry," as a reduction to 80 dBA in the level for lorries.

THIS reduction of nine or 10 d.13A means "a reduction of one half in the noise which people subjectively experience". A similar drop from 84 to 75 dBA is expected in the level for cars. Enforcement may not be so easy except for the initial control over the maker. Apart from the difficulty of simulating fair conditions with a meter on the roadside it has to be accepted that the police and other authorities have a good deal of other work to do, and that the risk of having a vehicle stopped for a noise test is almost negligible.

To. many people also the test seems pointless if it is given, for example, on a motorway or trunk road where the only people likely to hear the noise are other road users making noises of their own. Where the greatest annoyance is "subjectively experienced," as the White Paper would put it, is probably in otherwise quiet side roads where in any case the passage of a heavy commercial vehicle would be something of an event. In such thoroughfares it would be foolish even to hope that noise checks would be made.

What the inhabitants most dislike may be motorcycles which are given a somewhat curious treatment in the White Paper. There is no suggestion, as with lorries and cars, of a possible reduction in their present limit of 86 dBA. This is the more peculiar in view of the White Paper's introductory dictum that, "other things being equal, more power means more noise". As the motorcycle is the least powerful, other things are clearly not regarded as equal and, as George Orwell might have said, they look like becoming less equal than ever.

THE White Paper should serve to cool the critics who concentrate on air pollution by motor vehicles. There is no evidence, it says "that the carbon monoxide in our streets has any adverse effects on health or environment," or that cars "add significantly to the lead which occurs naturally in the soil or in the vegetable food we eat". The same slightly grubby bill of health might have been given to the diesel-engined vehicle. That diesel exhaust gases are almost entirely free from pollution was in fact emphasized in one of the resolutions at the IRU conference earlier this month.


People: George Orwell
Locations: Manchester

comments powered by Disqus