CAMPAIGNERS have finally scored a victory in a long-running battle over nuisance noise generated by traffic driving along the A3 and A3M.
After years of campaigning the Highways Agency has admitted it was wrong to ignore the problem, which has plagued people living in Havant and Waterlooville.
And the agency has pledged to investigate measures such as low-noise road surfacing to tackle the din.
Some neighbours of the busy route have complained about not being able to open windows and of their houses shaking from the noise vibrations.
They have repeatedly demanded resurfacing and acoustic barriers to be installed.
The Highways Agency has repeatedly said the route was not a priority.
As recently as April it wrote to East Hampshire District Council to say there were no plans for noise barriers or any monitoring.
MP George Hollingbery wrote back to the agency and demanded to know under what criteria the A3 was not a priority.
Graham Dalton, the chief executive, has now said the agency made an administrative error and the area is in fact a priority, because the noise level from the road has been recorded as exceeding 76 decibels – about the same noise level as an alarm clock or busy street.
The U-turn comes as residents are expecting heavier traffic – and thus more noise – with the opening of the Hindhead Tunnel as more motorists opt to take this route rather than the M3.
Resident Keith Todd, of Holdenhurst Close, Horndean, said: ‘It’s a constant roar all the time.
‘If they can do anything to ameliorate it I would appreciate it and I’m sure most people in this area would do.
‘They seemed to have changed their mind which is nice to hear.’
Roger Clarke, 70, of London Road, Horndean, said it was a step forward, but the fight was not over yet. He said: ‘I am not happy until I see actions.
‘We have made a step forward in getting the Highways Agency to identify a problem. Now we want to see them take action about it.’
Mr Hollingbery said: ‘I’m delighted that some action will finally be taken.’
The Highways Agency said the administrative error was made because officials had been looking at the wrong map. Information on the worst affected areas for noise is contained on two different sets of action plan maps – one for urban areas and the other for non-urban areas.
Officials had been consulting the non-urban map, which did not include the worst-affected areas.
The agency now looks at both maps to reduce the risk of similar errors occurring.
Its chief executive, Mr Dalton, said: ‘We will investigate what measures, if any, are feasible to reduce noise levels from the A3/A3M.
‘Measures which will be considered as part of this investigation include low noise surfacing across all lanes, when required for maintenance reasons, and noise barriers.’
He added: ‘The installation of any measures will be subject to available funding.’