9 June 1995

Park bridge dispute putting business at risk, says family

By Mike Edwards

A CUMBRIAN farming family claims a planning dispute is threatening their safety.

Kevin Raw, Cow Dub Farm, Dent, said planning regulations laid down by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, which has authority over land bordering his farm, is putting his family at risk and harming his business.

The authority has rejected his plans to rebuild a pack bridge which collapsed during winter flooding. The single-span structure connected one side of the 120ha (300-acre) farm with the other and was the only route to the family home from nearby roads.

Mr Raw and wife, Susan, are afraid vehicles from the emergency services could not reach their farm quickly. Also the day-to-day running of the farm has been seriously interrupted, they claim.

The bridge, over the River Dee, was the only safe way Mr Raw could move his 450 Swaledales from one side of the valley to the other, he said. "We have been unable to drive machinery and vehicles along the route for months," said Mr Raw. "It isnt a public right of way but a neighbour uses it for access. And we have even gone to the trouble of having steel arches made to retain the true bridge shape rather than use cheaper straight reinforcing bars. When you are dealing with a structure 35ft x 13ft you want something that is going to last."

But, the YDNPA insisted Mr Raw clad the steel arches in natural stone, which will double his estimated cost to £16,000.

Meanwhile Mr Raw has built a temporary bridge upstream using corrugated sheets, which he said was far from ideal.

YDNPA senior planning officer Nick Thompson said the bridge was in a sensitive site of great beauty. "The bridge is a private structure and it is Mr Raws responsibility to repair it," said Mr Thompson. "The YDNPA is sympathetic to Mr Raws predicament but cost cannot be taken into consideration when judging a planning application."

Kevin Raw… Missing his farm bridge at Cow Dub Farm, Dent.