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Closed footpaths prevent free access to Ecclesbourne Glen from the west. Photo from November 2016.

Closed footpath prevents free access to Ecclesbourne Glen from the west. Photo from November 2016.

EU grant prompts hopes for glen reopening

The award of an EU grant for the construction of the new Country Park visitors centre frees funds for use elsewhere in the park. Save Ecclesbourne Glen group would like to see them applied to reopening the parts of the glen closed due to the landslip. Nick Terdre reports.

In his Tressell ward report for April, council leader Peter Chowney reports that the council, together with its partner Groundworks, has been awarded a £540,000 grant from the EU’s Upstraw fund towards the cost of the visitors centre – this will be built of straw, the type of project Upstraw exists to support. A further £350,000, also sourced from the EU, has been donated by the School of Natural Building.

The council had put aside the proceeds of the sale of Warren Cottage to go towards construction of the centre, “…but this will hopefully now be available
for other enhancements in the Country Park,” Cllr Chowney writes.

One other ‘enhancement’ which Save Ecclesbourne Glen (SEG) group would very much like to see is the reopening of the parts of the glen which have been closed due to the landslip which ran from inside Rocklands caravan park and down towards the sea.

ESCC notice warning that the footpath is closed for 18 months from November 2016.

ESCC notice warning that the footpath will remain closed for 18 months from November 2016.

Good news?

“This could be good news as it means that there are now funds available to support Labour’s manifesto commitment to get Ecclesbourne Glen reopened,” SEG spokesman Chris Hurrell told HOT.

“In the past HBC have claimed that the recommendations of the Coffey [geotechnical] reports into the landslip could not be carried out because the £35,000 cost was prohibitive. It now seems that funds could be available to carry out further investigations into the landslip and drainage as recommended by HBC’s own geotechnical consultants.”

Re-opening the closed parts of the glen will not be straightforward, Mr Hurrell says. “The footpaths cannot be reopened until the landslip is stabilised, the landslip cannot be stabilised until the causes of the landslip are fully understood and necessary measures are taken to remove the sources of the landslip.

“These measures would include installing proper drainage in the Country Park and the removal of unauthorised infrastructure in Rocklands which has disrupted drainage patterns.”

Mr Hurrell has tabled a series of questions for Mr Chowney at the council meeting on Wednesday 17 May, asking how much surplus money remains from the sale of Warren Cottage and whether any of it will be used for projects such as implementing the Coffey recommendations, or to “ameliorate the visual harm” caused by the removal of screening in the caravan park. “We hope for a positive and informative response,” Mr Hurrell said.

The course of the landslip below Rocklands caravan park.

The course of the landslip below Rocklands caravan park.

HBC appeals ICO ruling

In fact Coffey’s precise recommendations are not in the public domain, the council having refused to release the geotechnical consultant’s second report. And the council still wishes to keep them from public sight, as evidenced by its decision to appeal against the ruling of the Information Commissioner that the report should be released.

HBC’s decision only became known when the complainant, Richard Heritage, contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after failing to receive a copy of the document by the due date and was told of the appeal.

The ICO case officer “…expressed concern that I was not aware of this and how I should have been informed by the council’s FOI [Freedom of Information] officer of the appeal as I am the complainant,” Mr Heritage told HOT. He had received no reply to his request to the council for an explanation, he said.

HOT has asked the council the reasons for its appeal but at the time of going to press had received no reply.

Posted 15:43 Wednesday, May 10, 2017 In: Home Ground


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  1. Chris Hurrell

    A statement from Rocklands own drainage consultants (BdR limted) submitted with the latest planning application states that the area is unstable and states that soakaways are unsuitable and would contribute to risks of landslip.

    This is very interesting as it confirms our fears that soakaways built in 2008 by Rocklands are a factor in the landslip. Rocklands constructed several soakaways when the apartment building was constructed and Rocklands drainage plan shows that there is a soakaway at the top of the road which leads to the landslip. The Bdr statement describes how this soakaway could have contributed to the landslip.

    Here is an extract from the Bdr statement:

    “The site is on Wadhurst Clay which in this area is predominantly clay beds with interbedded siltstone and sandstone, all of that dipping to the south and south east at relatively shallow angles (ie towards the landslip area). The geology gives a problem with regards to slope stability as the clay can become eroded by water flow and then undermine the more competent sandstone which then leads to instability and slippages. Whilst shallow soakaways in the sandstone layers would appear to be relatively effective for disposal of surface water, the water is then likely to flow at a shallow angle along the interface between the sandstone layer and the underlying clay/mudstone horizon leading to perched water tables and springs further down the slope, possibly within the previous slip area.

    This whole area is prone to landslips because of the geology mentioned and so my concern, if soakaways were employed and further movement occurs, the site owners liability will no doubt be brought into question….”

    Comment by Chris Hurrell — Thursday, May 11, 2017 @ 11:44

  2. Ms.Doubtfire

    Surely the release of this Coffey geotechnical report is a legal requirement for public perusal?
    If the council (basically US) is having to find the funds for the reinstatement of the damage caused by the landslip, why are we not allowed to see this report which, it is said, sets out the cause of the disaster. What is within this report which warrants such effort to conceal it?

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Thursday, May 11, 2017 @ 10:43

  3. Richard Heritage

    No real surprise the council has not responded for this article. Throughout this entire scenario to get a copy of this Coffey 2 report they have been on the back foot trying their utmost to refuse the public of having sight of it. When a council goes to so much effort and public expense to refuse not only me but refute the I.C.O. decision any person is going to ask what is their motive and what are they hiding.
    No doubt the cause of the landslip lies within this report and that is why the council does not want us to know what exactly was the cause of it.
    Regarding the funds the council have now reaped in for this visitors centre it must be quite a project and the end result should be something to see.

    Comment by Richard Heritage — Wednesday, May 10, 2017 @ 20:49

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