Trail go-ahead

PUBLISHED: 02:01 03 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:57 10 June 2010

THE Exe Estuary trail is set for completion after safety concerns of Exton residents were put on hold to ensure construction gets under way. Plans for the final phase of the multi-million pound cycle route linking Exmouth and Exeter were given a unanimous

THE Exe Estuary trail is set for completion after safety concerns of Exton residents were put on hold to ensure construction gets under way.Plans for the final phase of the multi-million pound cycle route linking Exmouth and Exeter were given a unanimous seal of approval by county councillors last week.Safety fears expressed by Exton residents have led to the adoption of a temporary plan. When the Lympstone to Topsham section of the track opens next year, bikers and walkers will initially follow Green Lane through Exton - the road's multiple concealed entrances causing concern for safety. A viable alternative will be sought later - but not before the county council is forced to complete a compulsory purchase order in order to send bikers along land which is currently privately owned.Exton residents remain dissatisfied by plans, after more than a year of debating the merits of the three options for routing the track.However, the county council development control committee was happy to move ahead with plans - a year after deferring approval on the track to deal with residents' complaints.Committee chairman Cllr David Cox claimed road use for cyclists on the Lympstone route had been safe, despite police concerns with the track - and directed residents to the Highways and Traffic Order Committee to discuss road safety measures on Green Lane.Cllr Joe Tucker added: "If everybody has respect for each other, this might be the perfect route."A Green Lane Action Group (GAG) had fought to have the track sent on a second route outside the railway line along the estuary, away from the village centre.GAG member John Sharples said: "I hope we will now be able to look at other valid routes. There is time to seriously look at this, and we will start planning again."Green Lane resident Bill Wylie called an audit on the estimated usage of the cycle track "seriously flawed". He said residents, supported by ward County Councillor Bernard Hughes, were working on "healthy debate" to establish a favourable route. An estuary-side track - initially rejected on environmental grounds - may be permissible if correctly designed according to consultant John Goss-Custard.A River Front Group has expressed concern such a route will affect their privacy, and force the placement of fencing in the way of estuary-side views.Ebford resident Miles Jennings addressed councillors to question plans to build a new 130-metre bridge taking cyclists over the River Clyst. Mr Jennings claimed cyclists could use the existing railway bridge despite Environment Agency concerns - and labelled the new construction a £1.8 million waste of money.Work is set to begin connecting the trail between Lympstone and Ebford in the new financial year.

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