A Somerset farmer has opened a £1m toll road across his land to provide an alternative route for frustrated commuters.

A landslip during the winter storms in February forced the closure of the A431 road between Bristol and Bath.

Farmer John Dinham of Roundhill Farm, Kelston, and Bath businessman Mike Watts confirmed a 400m long toll road would open on Friday (1 August).

The road, named Kelston Toll Road, has been laid through a field pasture to help ease traffic problems in the area. Commuters had complained that the closure of the A431 had added up to one hour to their journeys.

“We opened the road at 7am on Friday morning. It’s brilliant. It’s just 100% positive feedback from the people that have already used it,” said Mr Watts. “It is saving them a 14-mile detour in most cases.”

It is the first private toll road to open in the UK for more than 100 years. The only other toll road that has been set up in the UK in this time is on the M6 motorway.

The toll road will be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be monitored by CCTV.

Motorists will be charged fees each way of £1 for a motorcycle, £2 for a car or van and £3 for a caravan and trailers.

Buses and emergency services will be allowed to use the toll road free of charge. However, a 3.5t weight restriction and a 10mph speed limit will apply.

Bath and North East Somerset Council said the road had been opened without planning permission and therefore, it could not support the venture.

A council spokesman said: “The council is not in a position to support the temporary road option as we have not been provided with any evidence or information to support the application.

“The council has no details to confirm the toll road design meets safety standards and no evidence that insurances are in place for any member of the public who use the private toll road.”

Mr Watts said Kelston Toll Roll Limited would submit a planning application retrospectively to the council.

“In fairness, the council has been very supportive. They have been guiding us in what needs to be done,” he added. “A retrospective planning application is being presented.”

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