(c) Wales Coast Path Development Programme 2014/15: Progress Report -
Tricia Cottnam, Regional Coastal Access Officer, was present at the meeting to provide the Forum with a progress report on the Wales Coast Path Development for 2014/15. Mrs. Cottnam confirmed that she was currently working for four Councils, Monmouth, Newport, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan on the Coastal Access Programme. Cardiff Council was mainly self-sufficient in this area and there were approximately five projects ongoing in Monmouthshire and nine projects in the Vale of Glamorgan.
A Condition Survey had been carried out for the whole stretch of the coastal path which involved assessing the condition of the path, path furniture and way-marking. This work was being carried out in readiness for the next tranche of works to be carried out in the next financial year. The programme also included cutting back vegetation along the footpaths as there had been a large amount of growth this year. A colour-coding system had been introduced to identify works required, for example, grass and bush cutting, which was then used to produce documents to give to contractors at the start of works.
Mrs. Cottnam provided the Forum with an update in relation to the project claims, further works and also works in progress. It was confirmed that the resurfacing work carried out at Rhoose Point had been completed and that the stone stile at Sully had been moved to a safer location. A request had been submitted for a grant for this quarter and Mrs. Cottnam was in the process of obtaining costs for the next quarter.
Roll back work had been carried out at Summerhouse Point (West) due to cliff falls and at Summerhouse Point (East) due to erosion. It was confirmed that erosion and cliff fall were classed as health and safety issues and therefore these works were fast tracked. Local land owners had been very helpful and Shoreline Management had provided information with regard to the extent of the erosion and the minimum of roll back required at both sites.
There were ongoing surface improvement works being carried out at Cwm Colhuw. It was found that the area was located on Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) therefore CADW had to approve any groundworks. In order to mitigate the potential effects of erosion the team was considering rolling back this section of the path as part of the works. Mrs. Cottnam informed the Forum that there were issues involved with these works which could possibly set the programme back a little.
A Creation Order and minor ground works had begun at the Captain’s Wife in Swanbridge and it was hoped that the work would be completed by the end of November 2014. Mrs. Cottnam informed the Forum that there had been a dedication between two Rights of Way near the Captain’s Wife. The team had spoken to the landowner with regards to a chicane at the eastern end of the path which made access difficult for certain traffic such as bikes and pushchairs and advised that a small section could be removed to resolve this issue, however, they would also need to consult with local homeowners prior to any work commencing.
The Chairman enquired as to whether there was a possibility of a further two years funding for the development programme and Mrs. Cottnam advised that a proposal had been given to Welsh Government for future funding. However, there was a possibility that the Coastal Access teams could be regionalised across Wales to create four regional teams.
A discussion on the funding for the Wales Cost Path Development Programme took place with concerns expressed by Members of the Forum with regard to the short term funding of the programme. It was confirmed that the forward work programme had been reduced considerably, with most projects being 70% funded by the monies from Natural Resources Wales with 30% match funding by local authorities. Mrs. Cottnam informed the Forum that works such as roll backs due to erosion would be 100% funded and prioritised due to the health and safety issues involved.
Further concern was expressed with regard to the budget strategy going forward, the source for the match funding and changes to the budgetary priorities of the Rural Development Plan (RDP) and the short term funding for the programme, in particular with regards to officer posts.
In response to concerns raised by the Chairman, Mrs. Cottnam informed the Forum that the team had tried to fix the drainage issues between Penarth and Lavernock with large stones. However, she expressed the view that cross-drainage may not be the answer to this issue.
Mr. Traherne asked whether Mrs. Cottnam was able to provide a figure for the annual maintenance costs for the coastal path. Mrs. Cottnam advised that, with a view to reducing costs, the team was proposing to use a new surface material, ‘Ultritrec’ which was made from recycled road arisings which would only cost approximately £25 per tonne. This material would be tested at works in the Millwood section of Porthkerry in the next few weeks and the team was proposing to use this material for works at Cwm Colhuw, if agreed by CADW, and also coast path works at Penarth.
Following the presentation of the progress report for the Wales Coast Path Development Programme 2014/15 it was
(1) T H A T in consultation with the Operational Manager for Countryside and Economic Projects and the Public Rights of Way Officer, the Chairman, on behalf of the Forum, would write to Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales to express concern with regard to the short-term nature of the funding for the Wales Coast Path Development Programme.
(2) T H A T the Regional Coastal Access Officer be requested to provide the Local Access Forum with the yearly maintenance costs for the Wales Coast Path Development Programme for the Vale of Glamorgan