2 replies to “Work started on the Meon Valley Trail

  1. Updates on the Meon Valley Trail project are being displayed on the South Downs National Park Forum by David Deane, the SDNPA Cycling Project Officer. Its best to view the information flow on the SDNPA Forum but the latest update is below.
    Mike Ashton

    The Meon Valley Trail is regarded as a potentially vital route for access to the South Downs National Park by non-vehicular means. Being almost completely (road) traffic free, it starts just 3.5 miles north of Fareham and runs into the heart of the National Park. Fareham’s population is almost 100,000 and is fairly central in what is regarded as the south Hampshire metropolitan area (that includes Southampton, Portsmouth and connecting conurbations) which has a population of over one million people. The Meon Valley Trail is one of the best ways that this population could enter the National Park without using a car (around 17.1% of people in urban areas in Hampshire do not own a car).
    Although in an ideal location, the trail in its current state is not ideal. The overhanging trees present hazards and the muddy surface make it unusable for many including those whose mobility problems prevent them from enjoying the countryside. The route also lacks signage to neighbouring villages and local businesses that as a result do not benefit nearly as much as they could from the trail. The aim of this project is to make the trail safer, improve user experience and ultimately make it a more viable route for more users. With regards to the price, although the cost may seem high, it needs to be considered that this cost covers 19km of right of way with a working width of around 3metres and therefore a total of 57000m sq. The typical cost of constructing a path surface of this type (according to Sustrans) is around £20 per sq m which would work out at as a total cost of £1.14 million for surfacing works alone, without considering other works that would add significant costs to this. Rather than build such a new right of way, upgrading the Meon Valley Trail at the quoted cost is regarded as very good value for money. This value for money was a major contributing factor for the South Downs National Park and Hampshire County Council being awarded the grant from the Department for Transport for completing this work.
    Something else to consider in terms of cost is the maintenance for Hampshire County Council to keep the trail open. This winter there were 78 instances of tree’s blocking access on the Meon Valley Trail. Considering that each tree requires two people to cut up and remove the obstruction, who have to travel to the site and return, I’m sure you can appreciate the total cost for keeping the trail open is significant. The current felling work will be followed by a management plan, with the intention that the route be maintained at a much reduced total cost. In this plan, high-risk trees should be coppiced before they become a hazard on a regular (possibly annual) basis. Unfortunately at the moment, only a reactive management strategy can be taken because of the scale of the task outweighs the resources of the local authority.
    Given the above points which are by no means an exhaustive set of reasons, I hope you can appreciate why the route is being upgraded and that the cost is relatively low, considering the overall benefits.
    Please note that the contractors carrying out the felling works have been instructed to remove all felled trees from site. The tidying of felled trees has been delayed, but is planned to be completed in due course.
    The very short timescales of the funding being available (until March 2015) limited the amount of pre - consultation we could carry out before commencing the work but we have written to every resident with adjoining land, issued press releases and have contacted Parish Council’s and offered to attend meetings where possible. We are sorry that the works inconvenience regular users of the trail but hope they will enjoy the benefits of their completion
    With best wishes,
    Dave Deane

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