Welsh Water seeks views on options for Devil's Gulch
4 February 2021
- Gulch has been closed following rockfall in 2018
- Engineering solution each cost in excess of £1m – more than Welsh Water has available to spend on Gulch at present
- Welsh Water wants to hear views on possible alternative solutions
Welsh Water, which manages the Elan Valley Estate, is to seek views on potential options to address the rockfall which has closed the path within the estate known locally as Devil’s Gulch.
The route has been closed for the past two years after a rockfall made it impassable and also revealed the instability of the rockface on either side of the Gulch. Since the original fall on 4th November 2018, four further falls have occurred; with more likely this poses a very real risk to public safety.
Because of this, the section passing through the Gulch has been closed off while options for a possible solution to the situation have been explored by the company. Due to the extremely unstable condition of the rock face, expert engineers have had to be brought in to assess its condition and provide professional advice on possible solutions.
Welsh Water will present the options considered at virtual information and engagement sessions in February. While it welcomes the views of the local community on the proposed options, with each option costing in excess of £1million, the not-for-profit company is stressing these costs far outweigh any funding currently available to spend on the Gulch at present. It is however keen to see if any external funding avenues are available and has already begun exploring some options.
The long-term solutions proposed for the Gulch are:
- Pin and net the rock faces on either side of the Gulch
- To construct a tunnel through the Gulch using steel and concrete beams
- Cut back the rock face beyond its current position
- Create a diversion route avoiding the Gulch through the Rhos yr Hafod and Allt Goch side
- Create a diversion route avoiding the Gulch around the nearby Pen y Garreg reservoir
Alun Shurmer, Welsh Water’s Director of Customer Strategy and Engagement said: “We appreciate the inconvenience that the closure of the Gulch has caused regular users of this popular route, but protecting the lives, health and safety of the local community and visitors is and must be our upmost priority. While we are committed to encouraging the community and visitors to come and enjoy the fantastic outdoor amenities that we have at Elan Valley, we have limited funds available to us, especially at present with increased costs due to the covid pandemic, and our primary need to maintain essential water and wastewater services to our three million customers across most of Wales and Herefordshire.
“We have looked at many options but would like to hear the views of local stakeholders and community to see if there are any alternatives that we should consider and to outline the work that we have undertaken to date to find a solution to this very challenging issue.” ”.
With no immediate solution likely to the condition of the rock face at the Gulch, permission has been granted by Welsh Government for the path to continue to remain closed for a further six months. While this in place we are also looking are exploring possible temporary diversion routes within the estate and we are liaising with Powys Council on these options. A key priority is to address the concerns expressed around use of the county road as an alternative route.
Cllr Heulwen Hulme, Cabinet Member for Countryside Services, said “Being such a popular route within a beauty spot visited by many residents and visitors each year, we would urge you all to make your views known.
“The Council are working closely with Welsh Water to identify solutions in the short and long term. Currently, attentions are focused on alleviating the immediate concerns around the use of the road as the alternative route.
“We understand and appreciate the inconvenience this closure has caused, however, as the health and safety of all our users is paramount, this needs to remain in place until a permanent solution can be found and implemented.”
Due to current COVID-19 restrictions in place, the information sessions will be held virtually via Teams and will be held on
- Wednesday 10th, 13.30 – 14.30
- Thursday 11th, 14.30 – 15.30
Anyone wishing to join one of the sessions should email Rangers.Elan@dwrcymru.com to reserve a place.
Alternatively, information on the options can be found at elanvalley.org.uk and comments should be submitted by email to Rangers.Elan@dwrcymru.com by end of February.