The footbridge forming a key part of the River Tamar Discovery Trail Walkway and Wetland Project in Calstock has been given an extra vote of confidence this week.
Calstock Parish Council members debated on November 15 whether to take on ownership of the bridge and walkway as a community asset, and the strength of the vote in favour demonstrated clear confidence in its future benefit to the community.
Concerns were first raised during 2022 when the force of the river’s flowing water created a scouring effect which resulted in a partial deepening of the breach across which the bridge spans.
Further monitoring and investigation work over the past year by the Environment Agency and professional surveys commissioned by the Tamar Community Trust, have proven that the bridge remains secure and will likely provide access for decades to come.
The footbridge was the final piece of the jigsaw in the £3.1-million flood defence scheme which protects the village of Calstock in east Cornwall. The footbridge itself was delivered by Tamar Community Trust in partnership with the Environment Agency, Calstock Parish Council, Calstock Footpath Society and the Tamar Valley AONB.
It was designed and constructed to span the breach through the old flood embankment (which created the fantastic wetland) enabling the permissive footpath to remain on its existing alignment.
Following the vote, Calstock Parish Council will now take on ownership of the bridge and the walkway.
The Tamar Community Trust will ensure ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the bridge. The parish council will also be setting aside £3,000 a year for a contingency fund to support any longer term costs to the superstructure that the parish council will be responsible for.
Sarah Gibson, manager of the Tamar Valley AONB said: “The Calstock Wetlands intertidal project has been an enormous success resulting in controlled flooding of the area, encouraging more wildlife and enhancing Nature in this prominent location within the Tamar Valley.
“The footbridge is an integral part of the community’s enjoyment of the area so we’re delighted that Calstock Parish Council have voted to take ownership of the bridge. The Tamar Community Trust has been at the forefront of the investigation work which has strengthened reassurance and agreed to maintain it for years to come.
“Calstock parish is home to almost six thousand people, hundreds of years of heritage and the Tamar Discovery Trail attracts thousands of visitors into the Tamar Valley. We’re grateful to the Environment Agency and project partners for investing in this special place to safeguard the local community and our visitor economy.”
Cllr Alastair Tinto, Calstock ward councillor, recommended that the Council should take ownership of the bridge, stating: “We’ve worked closely with the Environment Agency and Tamar Community Trust to explore thoroughly the impact of the scour and any possible impact on the bridge.
“Based upon professional surveys and recommendations, together we’ve developed a monitoring plan and a maintenance schedule.
“We are confident that the bridge will be sustainable for the foreseeable future. The footpath is such an important asset for our community. We are delighted that it will be preserved for our community to enjoy and that Town Farm Field will also become another community asset.”
Jane Kiely, chair of the Tamar Community Trust added: “The Tamar Community Trust has worked tirelessly with partners and we are committed to maintaining the bridge and the walkway to ensure the enjoyment of the area for many years to come.
“We opened the bridge two years ago enabling people to enjoy this fabulous stretch of river and view the abundance of wildlife now attracted into the area. Helping to safeguard its use is important and we’re extremely pleased to be working in partnership with Calstock Parish Council to ensure the bridge has a long future.”
The Calstock wetlands intertidal habitat project is an example of action being taken to respond to the climate crisis through climate adaptation.
More information about projects taking place within the Tamar Valley AONB area can be found by visiting the website: www.tamarvalleyaonb.org.uk