Tarmac has no place on path in heritage area

Date: Monday 15th April 2019

THE loss of Threlkeld woodland for the zig-zag ramp tells us footpath reinstatement is under way on the Keswick railway path (planning application ref 7/2018/2116). Why did they not decide to install handrails instead?

There is increasing opposition to resurfacing with tarmac throughout the entire four to five-mile length, a wholly inappropriate material for a footpath lying parallel to the River Greta, with its conservation designations, at the bottom of a deep, steep-sided, mostly narrow gorge, a highly sensitive restricted location for the escape of polluting toxic fumes.

The plans suggest a depth of 12in or more, and up to 8ft wide. Where does the natural environment fit in here?

This is a rural location, not a city park, where the railway heritage lies in the trackbed, not tarmac, which suited users for decades, and in the old iron bridges that should have been left for future re-establishment (and also saved a fortune and access problems.)

The railway footpath is not only designated as a historic site. Its importance also as a county wildlife site and as a local site protected (English Nature) should of necessity preclude the use of any potentially harmful hard surface material for the forest floor and woodland ecosystems. There will be increased flooding risks through non-absorption, and contamination of the aquatic environment through run off compounding agricultural run off.

What will happen to the ancient “irreplaceable soils” of the woodland?

On TripAdvisor the 233 happy visitor comments — some five star — about the railway path, from every category of user considered by the national park, show that it is totally unnecessary to do anything other than repair the path where necessary.

On recent notice boards at either end of the boardwalk the authority already acknowledges users with prams, buggies and wheelchairs, so what’s the problem?

National park status, let alone a world heritage site, should provide the highest level of protection for the environment. If they are not prepared to reconsider the damaging inappropriate use of tarmac resurfacing, then one must ask where the future of the national park lies.

A. R. and C. A. SMITH

Glenderamackin Terrace,

Threlkeld.