Wye Valley split over cyclepath plan

First published in News

THE battlelines are being drawn over the £750,000 bid to build a cycle path through the Wye Valley.

The issue has split communities along the route and now time is running out for campaigners on either side to raise support or objections to the scheme which is due to go before planners later this month.

The controversial plans were submitted in August by Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, to Monmouthshire County Council and Forest of Dean planning office for a traffic-free path for families, walkers, cyclists, runners, mobility vehicles, wheelchair users and horse-riders.

The path will follow the disused 19th Century Wye Valley Railway line and would open up two former railway tunnels and see a new bridge being built over the Wye at Tintern.

Previous schemes through the Wye Valley gorge between Tidenham and Tintern and from Tintern to Brockweir have faced strong opposition due to fears over the increased number of visitors they would attract to the area.

Judy Lewis, a Brockweir resident and member of the Brockweir Cycleway Concern group, said: "It's a national route coming into the Wye Valley and we are concerned for the landscape. A lot of people will bring cars to the area and we don't think that the valley can cope with this."

The closing date to register a view with Monmouthshire county council is next Tuesday, October 12 Wye Valley cycling group who are pressing to create a safe and environmentally aware transport link have enlisted the support of several TV personalities.

TV weather presenter, Sian Lloyd, said: "I have a passion for walking and cycling and Sustrans' plans for the railway path sound fantastic. What an amazing resource for the people of the Wye Valley and the surrounding area. I am behind them 100 per cent."

And TV adventurer, Ben Fogle added: "The link would provide a welcome attraction to the region."

Sustrans was given money by the National Lottery for this project, which has to be spent in a limited timeframe, which means if the planning application is not successful they will have to spend it elsewhere and campaigners fear the once in a lifetime opportunity will be lost.

The railway path is one of 79 projects nationwide that will benefit from a share of £50 million of Big Lottery Fund money awarded to the Sustrans Connect2 project.

To submit your view email the Forest of Dean planning office, planning@fdean.gov.uk, quoting planning reference number P1626/10/FUL by October 7 and to the Monmouthshire planning department at planning@Monmouthshire.gov.uk, quoting planning reference number DC/2010/00783 by October 12.

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