Current and planned measures to ensure continued economic growth through road freight movement whilst reducing the impact on local communities in Staffordshire are included in an updated countywide strategy.
The ongoing need to balance community concerns with local business needs are the focus of the latest Staffordshire Freight Strategy, which will be discussed by a select committee this week.
It looks at the feasibility of local requests to reduce freight traffic, environmental concerns, diversion routes from trunk roads, overnight facilities for HGV drivers and the how the latest technology is used to support freight traffic and boost business efficiency.
In addition, the strategy considers how planning on future business developments could be improved and significantly the future impact of the construction of the HS2 line through Staffordshire.
The strategy states that the freight and logistics industry is significantly more important to the Staffordshire economy than regionally or nationally due to its central location and connection to main road and rail networks. It finds that the vast majority of freight traffic uses trunk and main roads – though it does create a negative impact on some rural communities.
An action plan contained in the strategy also contains several current or planned local projects which aim to alleviate road freight impact on communities including village gateways, speed restrictions, improved signs and routing agreements.
Since the first strategy was drawn up, the Staffordshire Freight and Communities Forum has been created to address community concerns, consider realistic options to reduce HGV impact and support local business which rely on timely transportation and delivery. It is led by the county council and includes other organisations such as parish councils, Road Haulage Association, Highways England and emergency services.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport Helen Fisher said:
This strategy is an overview of the current road freight industry in Staffordshire and its impact on local communities. This issue is a national one, though we understand that in this county the freight and logistic sector is larger than in other areas due to our geographical location.
There are no easy solutions in balancing community needs with those of the businesses who are creating jobs and sustaining our thriving economy. We are though with partner organisations looking at ways we could improve things, from traffic management to utilising latest technologies and influencing future planned development.
We have done a great deal of work in Staffordshire in recent years to engage communities, businesses and partner organisations – including creating our freight forum.
It is important that we all understand these issues can only be addressed jointly across communities, agencies and by central government.”
The strategy will be discussed by the Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee on Thursday.