AONB And Safety

In the last couple of years various community councils, members and residents have expressed concerns to Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) about speeding traffic and the inherent risk to pedestrians (residents and visitors alike).

In some instances road safety schemes have been implemented (Trellech and Llandogo recently) but there have been concerns expressed by Trellech United Community Council on behalf of Penallt, The Narth and Catbrook, by St Arvans CC (St Arvans Village) and Tintern CC (pedestrian routes in Tintern village). Also to be considered is a new road layout with pedestrian access in relation to new homes in Devauden and more widely speeding traffic on the main road through the village and its approaches, so Devauden CC are also involved.

The common denominator amongst the villages mentioned above is that they are all situated within the Wye Valley AONB as well as having concern about road safety. It was felt that a scheme that addressed road safety, improved pedestrian/cycle routes, better public transport, village signage and the general village environment might benefit the individual villages but also help to enhance the Wye Valley AONB more widely as a place to live and a tourist destination.

MCC have proposed and are leading a collective scheme promoting active travel, public transport, supporting businesses as well as road safety as this may have greater leverage when funds (grants in particular) are being sought as well as offering tangible results should any local councils contemplate raising some funding themselves.

This idea/initiative is at the planning stage and there is support to explore this concept further amongst the local councils. It also offers an opportunity to work with Wye Valley AONB officers and MCC to create a ‘multi agency’ collaborative scheme.

Andy Pullan and Guy Bowden (as Trellech United CC councillors) attended the initial meeting with MCC and the other community councils on the 17th Oct at Tintern. There was agreement between those present that an area wide approach would be more likely to succeed rather than the piecemeal approach where some proposals are adopted in one village and others elsewhere.

MCC want to promote this as a major project in order to apply for substantial funding from Welsh Government and hopefully persuade other agencies to progress it as they have limited money available. In order to achieve this a steering group has been agreed (1 representative from each community council, MCC, AONB and Highways) to agree terms of reference for work to be undertaken to come up with the business case.

Note that evidence and a well worked plan is needed in order to apply for substantial funding. This is likely to involve public consultation to gain communities’ views and feelings so we should all be able to voice concerns and suggestions.

One thing the councillors did raise is that if MCC want to have a vision of safe villages across the whole of the Wye Valley area, there would need to be a consistent approach to lower speed limits in every village which they accepted.

The next stage of the process has been to draft and agree a brief to invite consultants to bid to prepare a plan for consideration to take this forward. This plan should involve consultation meetings with local residents. The timescale for submission of the bids will be somewhere around the end of January, and then the group will need to meet up to select the successful applicant to start this piece of work. They will of course be liaising and agreeing progress with Community Councils, including TUCC, so information about any further progress should be available once it happens.