3 August 2007

UK ePetition on HIA

The United Kingdom Office of the Prime Minister has an online petition proposing that:
... the Prime Minister to initiate legislation that will make a health impact assessment (HIA) an explicit requirement for all proposals to augment UK roads infrastructure"
Edit: Comments on the petition from its initiator after the jump.

This response is by John Butler

I was indeed the one who posted the HIA petition yesterday. In North Wales (Gogledd Cymru - hence the affectionate "gogs"), where I live, officials at Transport Wales are planning a massive "Improvement", to 7-11 lane motorway standards of the modest A494/A55 dual carriage way highway that runs "across the top of Wales". If ever built, with parallel service roads, it would be up to 13 lanes wide and one of the widest roads in Britain!

Officials at Transport Wales/Welsh Assembly Government are saying that our economy will collapse if the road is not built and they are designing it to carry double the current number of vehicles to 130,000 cars and trucks each day! The fact that it passses through some of the most beautiful parts of The Principality, considered up to now to be a tranquil, rural gem seems to have escaped them.

Thousands of North Wales folk are saying that they don't want or need this massive, polluting construction - and have been building a case to oppose it for the past 18 months. You can read about some aspects (including a specially composed "anthem" now viewable on YouTube!) at our website.

The official documents produced by the proposers have never made any attempt to properly provide for an appraisal of Impacts on Human Health. Their justification for this is that since there is currently no statutory requirement for one there won't be one. Thats what prompted me to initiate the e-petition to our Prime Minister!

I have two small grandchildren. They are likely to attend schools very close to the proposed widened roads so, on their behalf, I decided to persue this startling omission by Transport Wales and also my local county authority who run the schools.

The need (absolute necessity!!) for a HIA for any scheme of this nature, was inspired by the Californian "Gauderman Survey" of early 2007. With encouragement from UK's emminent imunotoxicalogy clinician, Royal Commissioner Profesor Stephen Holgate, I arranged several meetings of concerned residents and local politicians with senior environmental officials at my Local County Hall (Flintshire County Council). It transpires that amongst the undoubted specialists they assembled to impress us, nobody has any clinical qualifications or competence - neither had they thought fit to confer with those who have.

I have now formally advised the Chief Executive of FCC that, if ever my grandchildren suffer future health problems as a result of their inaction now in not effecting an HIA, I will take legal against them. There is now a lot of behind-the-scenes buck-passing going on, especially as they are aware that I am preparing to get 3000 concerned parents to consider registering with me NOW for a "Class-Action" at some future date.

I believe transport Wales fears that if the project and all roadworks they have in the pipeline were to be subject to appraisal for Health Impacts using the criteria that recent research advocates, it would mark the end of ALL large scale road projects throughout Wales - and the UK......

Any help readers of the blog can render to those ordinary folk who oppose the injustice of this and who have natural concerns for those most vulnerable in Wales (UK) would be appreciated.

All North Wales Assembly Members and our local Parliamentary MP, Mark Tami MP have queried with incredulity the omission of a HIA and are now aware of the obfuscation that is taking place in the highest levels of our civil administration. This must never happen again!

I am urging those Assembly Members who have previously expressed support to immediately initiate a Bill in the Assembly that would make it a prerequisite for all future Welsh highway works of this type. The e-petition is simply another way to raise awareness of common concerns.

As a result of a concerted action by orinary folk to register their concerns, on 11 September 2007, there will be a Public Inquiry into all aspects of the current proposals. It is likely to be a landmark event in future considerations for HIAs. Can you help in any way?

Many thanks for your interest. Please recruit as much interest and additions to the petition as possible. Dont forget to check out the website. If you want to hear the campaign song it's on Youtube.

John Butler


NB: I can't necessarily vouch for the petition or its appropriateness within the UK regulatory or legislative context - Ben