Tue, 03 Sept 2019
A ROUTE popular with dog walkers could be shut until the middle of next year due to “serious health and safety concerns”.
The Speen Moor permissive pathway has been temporarily closed for emergency repairs.
The route, just over half-a-mile long, runs from Speen through Speen Moor Plantation and the flood meadows of the River Kennet to the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal.
Work was due to start on July 15 and was expected to take about three weeks to complete.
However, just before the work was due to start, a member of the public raised concerns over the work to the Environment Agency (EA).
Also, many of the trees along the route are suffering from Ash dieback disease.
The rural operation manager for landowner Sir Richard Sutton Limited, Grant Baker, said: “As a result, the planned work was postponed and it quickly became clear that a series of ecological inspections and other tests would need to be undertaken before EA would permit the work to proceed and that those inspections and tests would take some time to complete.
“The pathway has the footings to one bridge in a very poor and potentially dangerous state of repair, there are areas where the pathway is eroding into the river, other bridges with handrails in a dangerous state and numerous dangerous trees, many of which are suffering from Ash dieback.
“All of these, obviously, are potentially serious health and safety issues.”
Once permits have been received, the work can be rescheduled to start in autumn, weather permitting.
“If the weather is wet the repairs will have to wait until spring 2020.
The pathway will have to remain closed until the work is complete.
One person who uses the pathway said: “Hundreds of Newbury residents enjoy walking their dogs there, running, angling, bird watching, every day.”
Mr Baker added: “We are very aware that the temporary closure of the permissive pathway is extremely disappointing to those members of the public who use it, but on the other hand, we hope that everyone understands that the closure was imposed in order to safeguard their health and safety.”