The Court Case Result
In Stirling sheriff court, on the 26th of April 2016, it was confirmed that coal freight movements had stopped and would not resume. As a result, Stirling Council withdrew the statutory nuisance abatement order served on DB Shenker and Freightliner in December 2015. There was no longer any need for them to appeal.
Why the Shaking Stopped
The noise and vibration of the coal freight wagons was sufficient to damage the glass canopies in Stirling station, according to a Network Rail spokesperson. Rail chiefs said this station was being damaged by freight(see news report) . Network Rail managers showed little sign of concern that the physical pollutants that were damaging their own infrastructure were undermining the health and sleep of those living next to the line.
The coal freight came to an end. It might seem, at a glance, like an amicable agreement had been reached, but all is not as it seems.
An Important Day in Railway Legal History
On the 15th of March 2016, in Stirling Sheriff Court, two rail haulage companies, DB Shenker and Freightliner, will be appealing against an abatement order served by Stirling Council.
Whilst Stirling Council are attempting to protect the health of the general public by stopping noise and vibration at high levels during the night, the freight haulage companies, are expected to argue that UK law and ‘statutory authority’ gives them the right to run their operations (and thus pollute UK residents regardless of impact) without regulation or restriction.
The Lack of Responsibility Within UK Rail.
Who are AECOM?
AECOM describes itself as a global provider of professional technical and management support services in markets that include: transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. With headquarters in Los Angeles, California, United States and clients in more than 150 countries, AECOM reported a revenue of US$8.0 billion for the year ended March 31, 2014.
PERSONS RUNNING THE COMPANY:
John M. Dionisio chairman and on Board of Directors.
Michael S. Burke- chairman and CEO.
Stephen M. Kadenacy-chief financial officer and president.
Kevin Lynch executive vice president and chief strategy officer
Carla Christofferson– executive vice president and general counsel.
AECOM HAVE BEEN SENT THE FOLLOWING LETTER
I understand that AECOM has high environmental and ethical standards. However, as with any large corporation, things can, in certain sectors or situations go awry. I trust that AECOM, in keeping with its reputation, seeks to resolve occurrences such as the one outlined here involving as it does: Human Rights, public health, professional standards, ethics.
The situation concerns:
•exposure of the public to high levels of noise pollution
•presentation of misleading information on health impact of noise pollution
•provision of advice in areas outside AECOM’s expertise
•the ad hoc creation of exposure criteria not approved by any competent health authority
•deviation from AECOM’s own stated role in the project
•advising that non-health based standards that were 30yrs old and that do not appear in the ES should be used rather than the health-based modern standards specified in the Environmental Statement for the project.
•allocating night noise mitigation based on 30yr old standards that had not been approved in the official process.
•making unsubstantiated and irrational claims- noise of unlimited loudness, if limited to two occurrences per hour, is conducive to undisturbed sleep.
AECOM provided consultancy services, carried out noise and vibration assessments for the reopened Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine railway, and generated subsequent reports, as required by the Environmental Statement for the development. This included advice on the provision of mitigation and advice on allocating mitigation in compliance with commitments made in the ES.
The geographical location is Scotland.
Documentation obtained by FOI requests and other measures is held for all of the above.
I would be pleased if you would provide a contact person who will address this complaint and to advise on your formal complaints process.
RESPONSE FROM AECOM -NIL
So far, AECOM have been contacted five times. They have yet to respond to this letter. The AECOM website contact form was completed twice, they have been emailed, they have been contacted via twitter @AECOM twice. The only response has come via twitter once advising of an email address to use, once saying that an email had been received. No formal acknowledgment or reply has been received for the letter quoted above.
THE FUTURE OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, CSR
If AECOM wants to be recognized as an ethical, sustainable, socially responsible company, then it has to be honest: that means not just publicising accomplishments but acknowledging and tackling it’s failings. We have seen VW’s reputation collapse primarily due to failure of standards. The consequences are massive and may cripple the company. VW are now seeking whistleblowers to expose the extent of the problem. AECOM’s senior personnel, CEOs, president, the board of directors, are ultimately responsible for the standards within their own corporation. As such, they have a key role in rooting out malpractice or failings wherever and whenever such arise. We look forwards to AECOM fully addressing not just the pollution, ethics, human rights, professional standards issue, but the apparent reluctance of personnel at corporate communication level to even acknowledge notification of this problem.
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Following Legal Advice, Stirling Council is to Take Enforcement Action on Rail Noise and Vibration
Stirling Council is to come to the rescue of line side residents who, following the opening of the SAK Railway line in 2008, have been left with broken promises and high levels of noise and vibration.
A report commissioned by the Council in late 2014 found that night time noise levels outside resident’s homes constituted a statutory nuisance and that vibration levels at some properties was excessive. Network Rail and the freight operators have continued to run heavy night freight despite pleas, complaints and even written requests from the Scottish Parliament in attempts find a solution.
Now, thanks to the support of elected politicians, there is hope that enforcement orders will protect the health and well being of those affected by these forms of railway pollution.
Protecting the Heart of Scotland
Stirling, due to its central position and strong transport connections, is considered by many to be ‘the heart of Scotland’
The Office of rail regulation responded to this article as follows.
‘Thanks for your letter and blog post: understand your points and will reply soon.@railregulation‘
The response will be posted on NVAG. END OF UPDATE
Roles- Who Regulates Noise Pollution& Vibration Emitted by UK Railways?
Is it Richard Price, CEO of the UK Office of Rail Regulation? Or the team of ORR executive directors listed here.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR), and sustainability are high profile for any organization of good standing. For a publicly-funded body, a body responsible to government and public, a body that regulates national infrastructure, one would have thought CSR and sustainability would be the bread and butter of what they do. On the basis that ORR and the rail operators should act in a socially responsible manner, have a look at this ORR infographic of Network Rail targets for 2019 (this graphic was produced by ORR, not NVAG).
Anything Missing ?
There’s plenty in the infographic on increasing capacity, improving the network, reliable trains, maintenance, cutting costs . . . but what about CSR and sustainability?
After the Damning Report on Rail Noise & Vibration . . .
Network Rail have been sent a copy of the report that documents the high night rail noise and vibration levels recorded by consultants, Sandy Brown Associates. The report concludes that such exposure constitutes a statutory nuisance.
Network Rail run the UK rail network and claim in their sustainability policy that they manage noise and vibration. Currently their management system has seen night noise one metre outside bedroom windows reach levels eight times louder than the maximum advised by the World Health Organization.
Perhaps change is in the air.
Rail Pollution-Legal Action?
In a report commissioned by Stirling Council, Noise and Vibration Consultants, Sandy Brown Associates, reported that night noise levels were, in their opinion, a ‘statutory nuisance’. A Statutory nuisance is a legal term for pollution that is judged to be a ‘nuisance’ or ‘prejudicial to health’. Once classified as a ‘statutory nuisance’, UK environmental law says abatement orders should be served (EPA1990,sec79,80).
Link to railway noise vibration report
How Bad Is It?
Noise at four out of five sample residential locations was