UPDATED 27th November
We’ve added some additional detail to our official response to Peter White at Derbyshire County Council and have updated the article below accordingly.
Most members of Peak District MTB – and even casual observers – will be well aware of the ongoing situation on Rushup Edge (officially referred to as Chapel-en-le-frith BOAT 144). If you’re not, there’s plenty on our website to bring you up to speed and our previous article is a good and recent starting point. It’s not the easiest consultation to provide meaningful views on, for reasons that we point out in our official response to DCC’s Rights of Way officer Peter White, transcribed below.
Derbyshire County Council’s latest consultation expires 28th November (click here), so please get involved and make your views known before it’s too late. Remember, our combined voice is a loud one.
Dear Mr White,
Re. Consultation on work to the surface and drainage of Chapel-en-le-Frith byway
(aka Rushup Edge / Chapel-en-le-Frith BOAT 144)
The Peak District MTB committee wish to formally comment on the proposed works to Rushup Edge BOAT 144 in response to the information published in September 2016. Peak District MTB is a voluntary advocacy group with over 2800 supporters. You will be aware that the Peak District, and this byway in particular, is a nationally important route for mountain biking providing connections between popular areas in the Hope and Edale valley and the Pennine Bridleway. As reflected in the large and growing number of charities, groups and businesses associated with Peak District MTB, mountain biking is a vital part of the local community and economy.
When work on Rushup Edge first began you received advice from the Peak District Local Access forum was that a ‘reasonable agreed solution’ should be found to provide access to a range of users. Many user groups felt that work was unjustified and requested that any work carried out should be justified, sensitive, sustainable and in keeping with the character of the area. Peak District MTB do not believe these proposals represent a reasonable solution. We urge you to hold a site meeting involving all user groups to identify what, if any, repairs are necessary. In our view repairs to the surface are not required.
The details of the proposed works provided by DCC are very limited. This makes it difficult to be certain what is proposed, so making a response has been difficult. In the absence of a detailed response we have attempted to comment based on the limited information available and our experience of other similar projects in Derbyshire.
- At a cost of £70 000 the proposed work represents poor value for money.
- The money could be better spent on other much needed projects including improving access and maintaining rights of way in Derbyshire.
- The proposal to use extensive areas of unbound granular gritstone is of great concern. Unlike the current bedrock surface, unbound gritstone will be subject to water erosion resulting is a rapid deterioration of the surface making it hazardous. It will either require very frequent costly repairs or result in ruts and holes quickly appearing. This has already occurred on Chapel Gate and Stanage Edge, the former, having seen no successful maintenance is now a serious hazard to all users, the latter has required several, presumably costly repairs and will now continue to do so indefinitely.
- The proposed changes will completely change the character of an historic, beautiful moorland route.
- Given improved access was originally one of the main justifications for this work, we are disappointed to hear that, despite our frequent requests, local disability groups have not been consulted. Even when we reiterated our concerns in October 2016, you seemed disinterested in contacting them and left it to us to seek their opinion. We remain concerned that the views of potential users of the route and beneficiaries of other access projects in Derbyshire remain ignored.
- The proposals are reviewed and changed and republished with adequate detail to ensure a proper consultation can occur. A site visit with all the user groups will be the best way of ensuring an acceptable solution can be found.
- The plans should also include details of (including a financial commitment) by your department to maintenance of this route and others where we have highlighted the hazards of inadequate maintenance.
- The reviewed plans should reflect the concerns stated above to ensure that works are sustainable and safe to users.
- Given a permanent Trail Restriction Order is now in place, maintenance should be performed to the standard and character of other bridleways in the area such as the Roych section of the Pennine Bridleway.
- Given the evident importance of this bridleway to all user groups and its proximity to the Pennine Bridleway, any maintenance should be carried out to the standard recommended in the Pennine Bridleway documentation.
- The bedrock should be retained and firm rock stone pitching must be used in preference to loose gritstone.
- The rocks already placed in October 2014 should be removed as soon as possible as they are hazardous to all users.
- Any drainage ditches should contain a section protected by a stone slab to allow the safe passage of bicycles.
- Future consultations on byways and bridleways in Derbyshire are better publicised and contain an adequate amount of detail on which stakeholders can comment.
In conclusion, changes to the route remain unjustified and the plans and the cost are unacceptable and the methods used in this consultation fall below that expected of a public body.
Dr Esther Hobson MA BMBCh MRCP FHEA
On behalf of Peak District MTB