Questions and Answers

Please contact us if you have a question about the path

All answers are provided by Sustrans. Please email info@wyevalleycycling.org.uk with additional questions.

Who will pay for the maintenance of the path?

Sustrans will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the path.

What are the consultations about?

Sustrans has been working with members of the local community and Forestry Commission to produce proposals to restore the currently disused Wye Valley Railway between Chepstow, Tintern and Brockweir as a traffic-free path for walkers, wheelchair users, people pushing buggies, cyclists and horse riders.

The proposals include a new bridge over the Wye at Tintern, at the site of the old railway bridge which people may remember carried its last passenger train fifty years ago. It will also reopen two existing tunnels, one a kilometre long, completing an idyllic route for journeys to school, the shops or just to enjoy the beautiful local scenery, without having to use the car.

On display are the ideas developed to date for residents to find out more and to give Sustrans their comments. These comments will be formally recorded through a questionnaire and this feedback will be used to guide and further develop the proposal.

Sustrans hopes to submit a planning application for the route to Monmouthshire County and Forest of Dean District Councils in Summer / Autumn this year.

Who will use the path...?

The path is for wheelchair users, walkers, people pushing buggies, cyclists and horse riders.

Other rural paths similar to this are used for fun and for exercise but also for daily journeys we all make every day such as trips to local communities for shopping, work and school. Many of these trips are likely to be replacing car journeys, and most are likely to be made by local people.

We have commissioned research into the numbers of people who will use this path. The results will be shared with local parish councils and published in August 2009 and on this website.

...And will they get on with each other?

There are 12,000 miles of National Cycle Network across the UK, with 4,000 miles traffic-free, like this proposed shared use path.

Sustrans always encourages people to behave responsibly and sensitively to people out walking with their families or dogs and riding bikes or horses. We advocate good cycling conduct which can be downloaded from www.sustrans.org.uk. Incidences of conflict, to our knowledge, are very rare.

Personal security is best provided by plenty of people using the path and offering passive surveillance. Ultimately, everyone is responsible for their own behaviour and Sustrans does what it can to make the path safe through clear lines of sight and lighting in one or both of the tunnels. In addition, a team of local volunteer Rangers will help with the maintenance by cutting back overgrowing vegetation.

To protect people using the path from steep slopes near the path and bridges short sections of fencing will be used. An old land slip above the path is currently being investigated to ensure any possible risk is brought within acceptable limits.

Will the path be part of the National Cycle Network?

Yes, the National Cycle Network is made up of many local routes for walkers, people in wheelchairs, and cyclists which are designed to be safe, attractive and comfortable, and are linked together throughout the UK.

People with limited mobility benefit particularly from well surfaced level paths with unobstructed access points which reach into the heart of the countryside.

The National Cycle Network is much like the network of quiet country lanes which criss-cross the UK that are mostly used for local trips but which could also be used for longer journeys.

The proposed Wye Valley Railway path is typical of the existing National Cycle Network and will form part of the proposed route from Chepstow to Ross on Wye via Cinderford following quiet lanes and avoiding busy main roads. At Chepstow it will link into a national route 4 linking London to Fishguard, and at Cinderford will link to the proposed national route 44 from Gloucester to Cinderford.

Where will people park their cars?

We anticipate that most journeys on this path will be made by people who live locally, however some people will come from further away and want to park near an access point such as at Tintern or Chepstow.

The primary purpose of the path is to enable people to get about under their own steam without having to use the car. We will actively be encouraging people to get to the path by foot, bike and public transport.

Consultants have been commissioned to look into what the likely level of usage of the path is, what traffic and car parking demand this is likely to generate, how this parking can be accommodated level of parking demand is likely, and how this can be managed to minimise any adverse impacts.

The initial feedback has been that of all the access points to the path, the location which people will choose to drive to would be primarily Chepstow and to a lesser extent, Tintern. An important output of this consultation will be information from you about how and where people want to access the path.

Will there be an effect on wildlife?

The path will run through some of the most highly protected areas of Europe, designated as Special Areas of Conservation. In addition there are known populations of protected species of bats, dormice and otters.

We have commissioned specialists to look at the impact of the proposed works to restore the currently disused Railway Path upon local bat and local fauna and flora populations. Natural England and Countryside Council for Wales, the statutory bodies responsible for protecting Special Areas of Conservation, have been and will continue to be, closely consulted throughout the consultation process.

The timing of any work – for example the clearance of scrub – is particularly critical to ensure that birds' nests are not disturbed during breeding season. The ecological survey will inform a detailed timing of works to ensure minimal impact upon the various species.

Habitat enhancement could be undertaken, for example a programme of coppicing work may be introduced for the enhancement of Dormouse habitat and the benefit of wild flowers.

Will the landscape be affected?

The route follows the existing – but disused – Wye Valley Railway Path which is located within the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where any development should seek to conserve the natural beauty of the area.

As such a full and detailed landscape and visual impact assessment is being carried out to assess the impact of the whole route and the proposed new bridge at the location of the previous railway bridge which last carried passengers fifty years ago.

Where the landscape assessment highlights impacts upon the landscape we will look at mitigating the impacts and will managing the route to enhance the local landscape.

Will the pathway be good for business?

Potentially yes. A number of studies for other existing sections of the National Cycle Network consistently report economic benefits through spending in local shops, accommodation providers and jobs created and protected as a result of the creation of traffic free cycle routes, such as this one.

The business benefits are directly influenced by how the path is promoted, for example, should it just be promoted locally for trips to school, work or the shops, or more widely for day trips to encourage more people to visit the area?

Where will the money come from to build and maintain the path?

The Big Lottery Fund through Sustrans' Connect2 has allocated £370,000 for the link between Tintern and Brockweir which, including the new bridge is budgeted to cost £750,000. Once planning permission has been obtained it will be possible for further funding applications to cover the remaining costs of the bridge and the additional costs of the path on towards Chepstow.

Wye Valley AONB Sustainable Development Fund is helping to finance the planning application and this consultation.

Who will maintain the path once it is built?

Maintenance will fall to Sustrans - who will be responsible for the new bridge - and the Forestry Commission. Although Monmouthshire Council will continue to maintain the Tintern Visitor Centre as at present.

In the long term, there are a number of possible options including the continuation of Sustrans and the Forestry Commission maintaining it, or responsibility being handed to local councils on the basis that the path has become part of the local transport network, or a combination of these or even a separately funded body being created to raise funds for this purpose, such as a ‘Friends of the path' type association.

Sustrans' Rangers are local volunteers who carry out minor maintenance including litter picking, sign maintenance and cutting back overgrown vegetation. There is further information on the separate panel on maintenance.

Planning permission for this was refused once – why is it needed and why apply again?

Planning permission is needed because of the change of use from a disused railway to a path, as well as the engineering works such as the bridge which all counts as a ‘development'. The planning application process gives an opportunity for local communities and councils to formally debate the merits of the proposal.

There is tremendous popular support from local communities, the Forestry Commission and the Big Lottery Fund to create a bridge crossing and open access path to reclaim the disused Wye Valley Railway line as a path.

This application is substantially different and better than previous proposals by linking directly to Chepstow to enable more people to access the beauty of the valley more easily by foot and bike.

As concerns grow about the health of individuals and the environment, creating an opportunity for people to travel by foot and by bike for local journeys in and around their area makes clear sense.

How wide does a path need to be to accommodate cyclists and walkers? Is it to be fenced?

Generally the guidance is 2.5 metres plus minimum 0.5 m verges. If horse riders are to be accommodated as well some additional width either as verge or surfaced path is desirable. More information will be included in the consultation display. Fencing will be used to protect path users from steep slopes near the path

Part of the area comprises water meadows, through which animals pass to drink at the river. How will the be addressed?

No water meadows are directly affected by the proposed path between Chepstow and Tintern

What are the estimated vehicle movements and how is car parking to be provided at Brockweir and Tintern?

This is the subject of current investigation by consultants and the public consultation responses will inform that. There will be a 'transport impact' panel as part of the consultation display.

What are your calculations about the effects of the river in flood?

The path itself is well above the flood zone except on the Tintern Station site near Brockweir Bridge, though the path there has not within memory flooded. Any development proposal would need to include a flood risk assessment but previous investigation suggests that intrusion into the flood zone is minimal and mitigation can be made.

What is the estimated cost of ongoing maintenance? How is this to be financed and who will be responsible for it?

There will be a panel on maintenance issues in the display which we are asking for public comments on, including financial aspects

You can downlaod details of these issues from our plans page.

Does the proposed footpath link from Netherhope lane at the location of the old Netherhope Halt form part of the planning application, or is it to remain indicative only?

This is not a planning application but a consultation document. One of the things we are trying to find out more about is how people want to access the path and where the access points should be. Generally the more access points open to all types of users – i.e. on foot andf cycle and possibly horse – the more useful the path will be. The cutting banks at Netherhope Lane preclude a ramp so this could probably only be a pedestrain access.

What are the likely costs/timescales involved for construction of the section between Tintern and Chepstow?

They are not reliably costed as there are a lot of uncertainties particularly regarding the long tunnel and lighting. Timescale is dependent on planning and funding and its difficult to make any prediction at present.

How long will construction take and what is likelihood for funding of the section between Tintern and Chepstow?

Once funding is secured and construction started it should not take long, but this depends on how the work is programmed. There are ecological considerations which severely restrict the timing. All funding will need to come from external sources and the scheme would be competing with others for funds so the likelihood could depend on what the competition is, and the availability of funds generally. It will be a challenge to fund but not more so than many other projects.

Having had previous long term experience of the 5 mile long Cowes to Newport railway line cycle path conversion (on the IOW), I think this proposal has good potential to introduce an excellent local facility, and I feel many would use this route (including myself as a keen cyclist), to access Chepstow and Tintern. I however, remain rather concerned about some potential “real world” issues surrounding the possible misuse of the route by motorcyclists (especially from the Sedbury end) and wondered how will this be controlled? I do feel that the increased accessibility may also introduce the potential for antisocial behaviour along the route (smashing of bottles is one) and may have the propensity to spread crime problems into the area where I am to live.

Motorbikes are rarely a serious problem in rural areas. Physical barriers inconvenience legitimate users such as wheelchairs and bikes with trailers and would not be a first choice. The well established policy on motorbikes is: deal with a problem if it arises through the Community Police Supports Service – riding a motor bike on a traffic free path is illegal – and CPSOs are very helpful with this. Only if this fails would barriers be considered as a last resort. Shared paths are not particularly associated with crime any more than any other type of facility. The best deterent is that a path is well used so that the presence of other people encourages good behaviour.

In winter months, will a low sun angle be enough to power the proposed multitude of lights from PV cells for the Tidenham tunnel ? On the Tintern quarry side, big shadows will form due to the wye valley gorge. I would have thought that the tunnel will need a lot of good lighting as the 1190 yard long tunnel is s-shaped and creates complete darkness – what spacing and wattage will the proposed lighting have? Any thought been given to utilising the considerable “chimney” effect draught present in the tunnel from the airshaft to the portals to operate a wind turbine or similar, as well? What about a turbine in the airshaft?

The lighting design has not been undertaken and a specification to meet the needs of users and the needs of bats in the tunnel needs to be finalised. A lighting consultant has done some preliminary work which has highlighted some big technical problems with using PV panels. A turbine has not been considered and its an interesting idea.

Will the path be for horse riders as well as walkers and cyclists?

The proposal is that horse riders as well as walkers, cyclists and wheel chair users will all be welcome. There are some question marks over whether the new bridge will be suitable for horses, but there is a possible alternative over the hill connecting to a bridleway, and some horses will not want to go in the tunnels.

How will the creation of this path affect any future possible reinstatement of the railway.

It is very unlikely indeed that a railway and a path could co-exist within the railway corridor. It would therefore be a choice between the two. None of the works proposed would be irreversible and in fact returning the railway land to use would help preserve the structures like the tunnels and bridges.

At a time when more and more people are abandoning their cars at weekends and taking to walking and cycling with their families, this scheme has to be commended. It also opens out opportunities for Wyedean pupils living in the Brockweir area being able to cycle to school safely, something that is impossible at the moment.

This scheme can only be a positive attraction for both local residents and visitors to our area and I give it my full support.

Jacqui Sullivan
County Councillor for St Mary's Ward, Chepstow