Thousands of trucks carrying up to 20 tonnes of building materials each could cause traffic chaos until the end of the year after work began on a wind farm on the Dengie.
A traffic management plan from renewables firm Ridgewind Ltd estimates that HGV vehicles carrying 4,237 loads will be driving via Althorne and Southminster along narrow rural roads from Monday until the end of the year, as construction begins for a nine-turbine wind farm at Middlewick Farm.
The vehicles – carrying crushed stone and construction equipment such as mini diggers and cranes – are intended to travel along narrow rural roads, which include Rectory Lane near Althorne and Hall Road leading out of Southminster.
And despite proposals to construct permanent ‘passing places’ and improve junctions along the route, residents are shocked at what they regard as a complete lack of public consultation from the local authorities.
“I only learnt of the plans because I attended a meeting of the South East Area planning committee regarding an unrelated matter,” said one resident, who did not want to be named.
“It is this lack of consultation which is most abhorrent to me, and neighbours I have spoken to so far have also been completely surprised.
“If Ridgewind thinks that putting up posters next to the wind farm is enough then they are mistaken.”
It had also been suggested that a temporary clear way order could be issued along Station Road to prevent Southminster residents parking their vehicles along the highway to allow lorries to pass, but local concern has forced Essex County Council and developers to reconsider the proposal.
The news follows months of traffic chaos caused by turbine components being transported through villages en route to Bradwell Wind Farm, where 10 wind turbines are being erected.
The transportation of turbine towers and blades weighing up to 43,000 kilograms to the site at Bradwell-on-Sea has created a number of difficulties, with at least one of the lorries breaking down on Maldon Road in March, and Essex Police forced to co-ordinate one of the most complex escorts of ‘abnormal loads’ in its history.
Maldon MP John Whittingdale said: “I was opposed to Middlewick wind farm in the first place, not because of the traffic movements but because of the effect on the area, but another drawback is the huge amount of construction activity when we’ve already had disruption because of the farm at Bradwell.
“The route is a matter for Essex County Council but whatever route they take is bound to have an impact.”
And with notification letters from contractors now appearing on lampposts and fences in the area with a start date of Monday, June 24, it appears the implementation of the plans could be imminent.
An Essex Highways spokesperson said: “The Middlewick wind farm was granted planning consent by the planning inspectorate in May 2011.
“ECC are aware of concerns about the potential temporary parking restrictions however, ECC would like to reassure residents this would purely be a temporary measure to facilitate construction traffic.”
“ECC will take into account any special circumstances, including disabled parking, when considering the application for temporary parking restrictions.”
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