Four-metre tall barriers to protect residents from noise from the M40 have been branded “ugly” and like a “prison wall” by frustrated homeowners in Stokenchurch who claim the £3.3 million project has not had any impact on motorway sound.

The new noise barriers – which are still being constructed in areas including Lane End, Loudwater and Wooburn Moor as well as Stokenchurch – were highly-anticipated by dozens of households amid promises from Highways England that they would cut out excess noise from the motorway.

However, Diane Howard, who lives in Marcourt Road, says the barriers are too tall, too ugly and have not made the motorway noise any better.

Mrs Howard and other residents of the road – as well as nearby Beech Close – feel so strongly about the barriers that a petition was handed to Highways England last month with 36 out of 39 households signing it.

The petition calls for the noise barriers to be reduced in height from four to three metres, foliage and trees to be replanted and the M40 to be resurfaced to provide some more noise protection. 

Mrs Howard said: “The barrier is just too high. We put an extension on our bungalow last year – which I wouldn’t have done if I’d have known the barriers would turn out like this – and I can’t even see the sky out of the kitchen window any more.

“All I can see is the barrier – it’s like living with a prison wall around you. It has actually made the problem worse. Although you can still hear the same amount of noise in the back garden, you can now hear it louder out the front of the house as well. It’s almost like it’s created a tunnel effect.”

Mrs Howard said residents feel they were not consulted sufficiently enough on the project.

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said the project has been a “complete waste of money”.

She said: “We bought our house knowing full well about the noise from the motorway. We didn’t want the barriers and the money could have been better spent on the NHS or on repairing potholes.

“It is a complete eyesore. The height is the main problem.”

In response to Mrs Howard’s petition, Highways England said they would consider planting low height trees and will finish building the barrier at four metres tall before carrying out sound tests and then remove the top four sections of the barrier to reduce it to three metres and carry out more sound tests to determine if there is a difference.

They said the M40 would not be resurfaced until it had come to the end of its life.

A Highways England spokesman said: “Following completion of the noise barriers, we expect to achieve up to a five decibel reduction in noise levels, depending a number of factors, mainly location and proximity to the noise barrier.

“We will take noise measurements at various locations once we have completed the scheme and compare these to measurements taken before the project started to enable us to understand the actual noise reduction achieved.”