The campaign to build the path is a complex one, as it requires negotiations on land and rights of way, engineering challenges, environmental considerations and lots of fundraising. To cover some of the issues, we have prepared an FAQ. If there are more questions you’d like answered, please send them to us.
When did Frome’s Missing Links start?
In 2010, FML began campaigning for better and safer walking and cycling routes within Frome and connections to neighbouring towns and villages. The organisation was set up as a charity in June 2016.
Why is it taking so long?
The principle physical barriers to constructing cycleways are roads, railways, and rivers. Each has an established bureaucracy which moves at a glacial speed and has stringent requirements to ensure that their interests are not affected. We often need to use private land, and have no powers to acquire it compulsorily.
Are local landowners supporting the route?
Some have been extremely helpful, but others have been reluctant to discuss the options with us. It only takes one to block a potential route.
What support does FML have from government bodies?
Frome Town Council has always been very supportive of the project, which would bring environmental benefits, as well as improving community health and wellbeing and making a huge difference to the options for sustainable transport locally. Somerset County Council, which has powers to help with compulsory purchase orders and is responsible for maintaining footpaths and bridleways, has so far shown no inclination to help. Cuts to local authority finances also means they have little in the way of grants, and many calls on them.
A lot of money has been raised. Isn’t it enough to build the path, now that the old railway sleepers have been cleared?
A tarmac cycle path is surprisingly costly. A simple path across a flat field costs little more than £100 a metre, but embankments, fencing, bridges are all extra. Then there’s the cost of the land, with legal costs, design, survey, and planning fees etc.
How long before the Colliers Way route can be connected with the centre of Frome?
Once Phase 2 is complete, we will have to face the difficulty of connecting Phase 2 with the end of Phase 1, in Whatcombe Fields, near Frome. The biggest problems will be crossing the A362. The County Council has ruled out any signalised crossing at road level because the traffic moves too fast. Tunneling through part of the A362 rail bridge, which was filled with poor quality concrete in the 1960s, would be expensive and we cannot be sure it will be allowed by Network Rail. If we need to avoid the rail route just because of fencing costs this would be a problem. We also need three bridges to cross Mells River, Coalash Lane, and Jacks Lane.
Since some land ownership has changed recently we are revisiting our scheme to see if we can find a more viable route.
Is there a cheaper way of doing things?
With funding being harder to come by than ever, we have been examining cheaper construction methods, such as the compacted stone (which is used on route 24 between Wellow and Midford). While we have a licence from Network Rail to build the path adjacent to the track for about one third of the length, the erection of the high (and ugly) fencing they require may double the cost. We are considering if there any alternatives.