TRF:Hi Andy. It looks like you’ve been busy over in Loddon Vale, that’s a lot of Hi-Vis! Could you start by giving us a bit of background to the Green Road you’ve been working on?
Andy:Hi Greg, This is the ‘Pidham Lane’ byway that forms part of the East Meon 5-ways complex at Langrish village near Petersfield. This set of byways is subject to a permanent TRO since 1993 limiting vehicular traffic to three wheels or fewer. This is a great set of byways which are shared by motorbikes, horses and walkers. It’s an area that Loddon Vale TRF frequently takes organised ride outs to year round.
TRF:What happened to create an issue with the lane? Could it have been prevented?
Andy:Hampshire County Council highlighted in 2016 that the byway was at risk of closure because of significant surface water damage. The surface conditions are mostly chalk in this area and over many years the chalk has been washed away in places.
TRF:The way that Loddon Vale have approached this repair has been really interesting. It’s involved volunteers, fund raising, small grant schemes and the approval of official bodies. Impressive stuff. How did you do it?
Andy:The HCC Small Grants Scheme (SGS) is a matched funding scheme, where 50% of the costs of performing repairs is provided by HCC, and the other 50% is made up of volunteer man hour in-kind costs plus LVTRF funding. HCC made estimates of material quantities, and obtained quotations for us. There is a maximum of 25% in-kind man hours so with a total estimated cost of around £2300 the LVTRF club would need to find around £600 to fund the activity. Fortunately we were grateful to receive a donation of £200 from Witley MCC at this time. The LVTRF group discussed the opportunity at a number of club and committee meetings. This would be the first time that the LVTRF club had taken on a job of this scale so there was some careful consideration to make sure we would be capable of doing a good job. We made contact with Chris Cole at Devon TRF to get insight into the work that had been performed by them. They gratefully shared their method statements and risk assessments with us so we could build on their experience. The SGS application was submitted in October 2016, and the contract with HCC was signed by Brian H LVTRF chairman in January 2017.
TRF:What was the biggest challenge that you needed to overcome to make this repair happen?
TRF:And the repair itself, how did it go?
Andy:We had the 50 tonnes of materials delivered on the day before the work day. The delivery truck drivers were brilliant as they battled really hard to get the materials delivered as close to the work site as possible which meant reversing their 20 tonne vehicles up 100m of the byway through a lot of mud and overhanging trees. Steve T had prepared a risk assessment for the event. The key risks identified were using hand tools, manual lifting and working around machinery. The key mitigations that had been identified were for everyone to have hi-viz vests for maximum visibility, for anyone working with tools to be competent and have suitable PPE, and having work gloves available for all to use. The machinery we had turned out to be well matched to the job in hand. Dick R brought his CASE 420 tracked loader, and Leigh B brought along a hired 3te mini-digger. We had 14 volunteers turn out from LVTRF and a couple from Southern TRF. The volunteers focussed on clearing overhanding trees and vegetation and assisting in draining some of the water logged areas.
TRF:What’s next for Loddon Vale TRF?
Andy:LVTRF have built up a good relationship with Hampshire CC and we will be talking to them more about other green roads in need of repair in the area. I think we need to get greater visibility of the members within the TRF who have the experience and access to earth moving machinery. This has proved to be the key element in performing a significant work scope such as we took on at Langrish. There is a lot of potential for the TRF to demonstrate that we are part of the solution to keep the green road network open for the long-term future.