The Wenhaston team have been waiting – quite impatiently – for the birds’ nesting season to end, as many of the activities onsite were (quite rightly) constrained by the restrictions. A few days after the season ended, therefore, the team tackled the improvement of the access across two waterways, the restricted nature of which has made it very difficult for the Trust to reach the major part of its 31 acres of land.
The roadway, crossing two culverts, which seems to have been made after closure and lifting of the SR by robbing out part of the railway embankment, had become severely overgrown, muddy, narrow, and damp. Until the new bridge is built – a substantial undertaking at about 30 metres in length – this culvert crossing is the only way for sponsors and other members to reach the trackbed from the public road.
A small but very dedicated team worked on in torrential rain to make this
happen (another complaint was received from some local objectors about this work, which – in the very wet and uncomfortable circumstances – was not very likely to encourage the volunteers to continue to give their time to their chosen charity). After a second workday (thankfully fine), and with the essential help of “Digger” Sean, using his wonderfully-eccentric machine to load recycled material for surfacing, the access is now navigable with ease. The culvert was edged to prevent material falling in and affecting drainage, and the path hardened (thanks to generous sponsorship of materials from Sean): further hardening will be necessary as the wetter weather shows up soft spots. Deliveries – for example, of fencing materials for the rebuilding of the SR boundary fence – can now be carried direct to the trackbed. Those generous sponsors who helped to pay for the land will finally be able to reach, see, and enjoy the 22 chains of original SR embankment and cutting – and of course our agricultural tenants will find the newly-improved access a great help.
Cleared trackbed path
Sean also delivered four very substantial gateposts to site. These were originally used at the Trust workshop for packing under Coach 7: now this is on rails, we can recycle the posts, with replica gates, to help re-create the driftway (accommodation) crossing which was a historic feature of our trackbed section.
Toby again strimmed the access over the pastures – an endless job, which will continue to need doing as part of our scheduled maintenance. Grass and low woodland plants continue to colonise the cleared trackbed – if we can keep the nettles down (and there are several acres of them still onsite to keep the insects happy), this process will continue. Wildlife monitoring via motion-activated cameras is now in place, so we can ensure that we are not creating too much disturbance, and can also record species and numbers.
On a perhaps less positive note, the planning department of Suffolk Coastal District Council have now made it necessary, at the very last minute before the plans were to go before their committee, for us to make yet more changes to our April 2013 application: these will push the final decision back to October at the earliest, making the promised 8-week process into a 19-month-plus marathon. The Trust volunteers, members and supporters are beyond disgusted at this endless series of new objections, which, if valid, could have been raised in the spring of last year. The length of the process – and the uncertainty it provides – are making it very difficult indeed for the Trust to fulfil its lawful charitable purpose (which can be seen on the Charity Commission website – SRT is ref. 1117041).