Chinnock Hollow near Yeovil will not reopen Somerset Council has confirmed after an independent report outlined a cost of up to £2.7 million to make it safe.
The road, which links the villages of East Chinnock and Odcombe, has been closed since 21 February 2021 following a significant landslide involving 20 tonnes of rock and sand as well as a large tree. The debris rolled down the side of the 12-metre wall of the hollow, burying part of the road below. This followed a less serious incident just a week before.
Due to the seriousness of the incident investigations began into the likely causes, actions needed to secure the road and potential hazards moving forward.
In-depth engineering reports revealed the substantial risk of another landslide, potentially even larger in the same area, as well as the risk of other failures at different points along the road.
Last October a public meeting with the local communities was held to review the risk and potential options to make the road safe. It was agreed a final independent report was required to establish a more precise cost for a hybrid option involving clearance and some containment work alongside regular safety monitoring.
This option, which as well as clearing the debris, involves installing steel meshing to hold the steep sides of the hollow in place, would cost up to an estimated £2.7 million to deliver. It is not possible to identify external funding for such a scheme at this point and the money is not available within current budgets.
Councillor Mike Rigby, Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital said: “We understand people’s concerns about an indefinite closure of Chinnock Hollow, but the reality is that there just isn’t the available budget to consider this scheme.
“We cannot justify spending nearly £3 million when there are so many pressing and competing maintenance priorities across more than 4,100 miles of road in Somerset, and there is no available funding from Government.
“It’s simply not possible to open the road and hope for the best when there is a substantial risk of a further significant land-slide.The Council is liable for any resulting injury or fatality and must take every possible precaution to ensure the safety of the public.
“The road must therefore remain closed until such time as funding can be identified to safely reopen it. We will continue to explore any potential avenues for funding.”
“We are liaising with the communities in the immediate area to listen to concerns people may have and we will be arranging a further engagement event to give people the chance to speak to our specialist team.”
The report outlines four options – avoidance/keeping the road closed; routine maintenance and inspections; containment; strengthening.
The fully costed £2.7m option, explored by Somerset Council, is a combination of containment and routine maintenance and inspections.
The report recommends the road should remain closed until the option to reopen it can be funded and delivered.