A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road

Sustainability Strategy & Performance Assessment

Interim Client & Design Award

Sustainability Performance Rating: 86.5%
Sustainability Strategy Rating: 94%

Project Team

Client: Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
Designer: Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Project summary

The A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road Scheme will provide 10 kilometres of new 2-lane dual carriageway on an east-west route from the A6 near Hazel Grove (south east Stockport), via the 4 kilometres of existing A555 to Manchester Airport and the link road to the M56. The scheme is being developed by Stockport Council working with its partners, Manchester City Council, Cheshire East Council and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

There is currently no direct east-west transport link through south east Greater Manchester and east Cheshire. The lack of this connection contributes to congestion on major and minor roads meaning that people and goods cannot move easily, directly and efficiently. The congestion being created is constraining the local economy, affecting air quality in local areas and reducing access to key destinations. These problems will worsen significantly in the future if no action is taken. The A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road has been identified as the best solution to address this problem, as part of the overall SEMMMS Strategy.

The construction of the relief road will also help improve traffic movement in heavily-congested district and local centres, ensuring that all residents and businesses are able to travel around the region with ease, in order to access the commercial and employment opportunities that local economic growth and developments such as Airport City may offer.

As part of the scheme, a new cycle path for cyclists and pedestrians will be introduced alongside, but separate from, the entire length of the dual carriageway, including the existing A555. In addition, footpaths and bridleways will also be provided along parts of the scheme and a number of existing public rights of way will be upgraded to improve linkages into the existing networks.

The development of the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road will provide a number of benefits for the region including:

• Supporting economic growth and development;
• Providing better access to Manchester Airport, Airport City and other key destinations for employment, education, health, leisure and retail;
• Reducing congestion on local roads in surrounding areas;
• Shorter journey times for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport users, car drivers and freight;
• Improved road safety, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists by reducing the volume of traffic passing through residential areas.

The Carillion Morgan Sindall joint venture has been appointed to undertake the construction of the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road. Environmental preparation works began in March 2015 and will last for approximately 2 ½ years. The road is expected to be open in late 2017.

To conform to the aims of the Greater Manchester (third) Local Transport Plan and to achieve a gold standard on Stockport Council’s sustainability checklist the CEEQUAL Whole Team Award including Project Strategy was considered an effective system with which to manage the schemes’ social and environmental opportunities, risk and impacts.

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During the scoping stages of the project, CEEQUAL was used as a framework to validate existing strategies, objectives and aims. In addition, the CEEQUAL ‘kick off’ meeting provided opportunities to drive new strategies and initiatives that would potentially enhance existing support and garner further support from those who were opposed or indifferent to the scheme.

Much of the strategy revolved around evidence gathering, assessment and extensive public consultation in order to make a successful planning application. The robust and detailed nature of the assessments undertaken formed much of the evidence for the Project Strategy section of the CEEQUAL award and the Planning Application.

Challenges faced and Achievements

People & Communities

Extensive Public Consultation – The project team conducted three phases of public consultation which comprised a range of engagements methods with local residents and businesses, statutory bodies, environmental groups and road user groups. The development of a comprehensive and specific consultation strategy allayed fears; gave those significantly affected increased input into the development of the scheme and allowed the project team to communicate what is possible insofar as mitigating the impacts of the scheme whilst promoting the benefits.

Movement and Access – The scheme will be majorly beneficial to non-motorised users of the public rights of way network, due to the new east to west footpath and cycleway connecting various local centres and existing footpaths. The inclusion of footpath diversions, upgrades and improved overbridges in the scheme design will help mitigate for severance.

Noise – the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has demonstrated that there would be an increase in traffic related noise. In the short term, of the 26,034 residential receptors and 123 non-residential sensitive receptors in the study area, 9,575 are likely to experience an increase in noise, whilst 6,489 are likely to experience a decrease. However, there are only 55 residential properties that would potentially experience levels equal to or in excess of 68dB(A) and a 1dB(A) increase as a result of the scheme. The relatively small number of those experiencing these magnitudes of impact is in part due to the committed noise barrier mitigation and the application of low noise surfacing throughout the scheme. The iterative process of developing noise barrier mitigation was comprised of multiple noise modelling re-runs and detailed and specific public consultation.

Ecology & Biodiversity / Environmental Assessment & Mitigation

The assessment of environmental impacts was brought together into a single Environmental Statement (ES) document. A major part of the ES is proposing mitigation and where possible the project team committed (in part due to the CEEQUAL method) to go beyond best practice and basic compliance.

Nature Conservation – The scheme will require the removal of 0.08 hectares of ancient woodland and vegetation within a Site of Biological Importance (SBI). Although the project team understood that ancient woodland cannot be reproduced, a commitment to habitat enhancement rather than habitat compensation formed the basis of the Nature Conservation mitigation works recommended in the ES.

Beneficial impacts will be created from these ecological enhancements and the area will benefit from a net increase to species rich hedgerows, semi-natural broad-leaved woodland, species rich and grassland. In addition, every pond removed regardless of its status, two new ponds capable of supporting Great Crested Newts and other amphibians will be constructed.

The EIA outlined potential impacts upon bats, badgers and great crested newts as well as mitigation measures to provide compensatory habitats. As a result no significant adverse effects on these species are expected as a result of the scheme.

Air Quality – The EIA has demonstrated that Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) concentrations will fall at approximately 79% of receptors whilst 2% will be unchanged and 19% will experience an increase.

Sustainability Statement

The Sustainability Statement was not required as part of the planning application to each of the three Local Authorities in which the scheme lies, however it was produced using CEEQUAL as the framework by which the evidence of the scheme’s sustainability credentials could be judged.

The scheme has been designed with sustainability borne in mind from the conceptualisation of the scheme through the detailed design. The Sustainability Statement committed the project team to carrying this ethos through future detailed design and construction phases.

To what extent did the use of CEEQUAL influence your project?

The scheme has been designed with the objectives of CEEQUAL borne in mind and with the aspiration to attain a CEEQUAL score of Excellent for both Project Strategy and Sustainability Performance.

As the Interim Award was utilised to support the planning phase of the scheme, CEEQUAL was predominately used to put strategies, objectives, aims and mitigation in place to ensure that the project team not only met their statutory obligations but in many cases went beyond basic compliance.

The mechanics of producing a road are complex and CEEQUAL offers a clear and concise framework by which the project team could judge the work previously undertaken and implement new strategies to ensure that the scheme will be built balancing the environmental, economic and social requirements of local and regional population. There are certain areas where sustainability issues have not yet been addressed but measures have been taken to ensure that these would be in the future. The main vehicle for this was the construction contract which relied on CEEQUAL to provide guidance on how the contractor should approach sustainability.