HUNDREDS of people have objected to proposals to allow tonnes of concrete underneath a historic bridge to remain.
National Highways said it was ‘crucial to public safety’ to infill Great Musgrave bridge near Kirkby Stephen.
Eden District Council initially recommended NH stop infilling while planning requirements were reviewed but the organisation used the emergency development powers to continue the work.
The council subsequently insisted retrospective planning permission must be obtained, and the application – submitted in April – has now received hundreds of objections with only two submissions in support.
It is due to go before Eden district planners later this month.
Campaigners have quoted a report from Bill Harvey Associates, an internationally-respected firm specialising in masonry, which said the bridge carried no threat to public safety and ‘no credible risk’ of collapse.
In September and October 2020, NH sent letters to local planning authorities informing them that 32 bridges would be infilled under powers which allow works to be undertaken in emergency situations.
But now, HRE group, which campaigns for the retention of the historical railway estate, has written to minister Baroness Vere asking her to instruct National Highways to remove the infill now because of the company’s actions, which it describes as ‘clumsy, disreputable and suggest questionable competence’.
The Group goes on to say that: “Through careful, deep and objective analysis of the available evidence, the BHA report forensically dismantles the case for infilling Great Musgrave bridge. £124,000 of taxpayers’ money was absolutely wasted. That National Highways could so comprehensively misrepresent the threat posed by the structure should be a matter of concern to everyone.”
National Highways head of Historical Railways Estate programme Hélène Rossiter, said: “As part of our work on the bridge at Great Musgrave, we carefully considered several options to strengthen the bridge from a 17 tonne to 44 tonne weight limit. We determined that the infill was crucial to the safety of the public, and making future use of the structure viable.
“Our thorough internal review determined last year’s infilling was vital to public safety, and preserving the structure until a long-term purpose is found. We’ve committed to reversing it if a viable future use for the track bed beneath the bridge is found, that has all necessary approvals and is ready to be delivered.”