9 Long-term maintenance |
69. The £50 million estimate will cover
the maintenance costs during the implementation period of the
proposals (years 1-10).
The exact details of who will be responsible for maintenance from
year 11 onwardsincluding the funding of that maintenancehave
not yet been determined, and is not set out in the draft Bill.
It is likely that access authorities will be primarily responsible,
although Defra says Natural England will contribute from year
11 onwards on "a basis yet to be agreed".
70. Several witnesses expressed concerns about
the long-term maintenance of the route. Devon County Council expressed
concern that the proposals could be an "additional burden"
on local authorities, because both the route and spreading room
would require continual maintenance, such as seasonal vegetation
cutting, and inspection. It wanted the issue of maintenance to
be clarified early. Cumbria County Council also wanted a "clear,
unequivocal answer early on" about maintenance.
71. Other witnesses believed it was unnecessary
at this stage to clarify responsibility for maintenance from year
11 onwards. The Ramblers' Association acknowledged long-term maintenance
was a "grey area" but it did not believe clarification
was a prerequisite for the legislation. Instead, discussions could
be held "early on in that ten-year period".
The Minister said he recognised the concerns expressed by local
authorities about long-term maintenance. He said the Government
had a responsibility to ensure local authorities would be "resourced"
to carry out their new functions, although he did not give any
answers about when decisions concerning long-term maintenance
would be made.
72. The Government should clarify
responsibility for, and the estimated costs involved in providing,
long-term maintenance before the Bill is introduced. If assurances
on this cannot be given ahead of the introduction of the Bill
then the Government should not proceed with the measure until
this is clarified.
113 Ev 25 (DMB 56e) [Natural England]; Q 475 [Minister]. Back
Ev 110 [Defra], para 7. Also Q 475 [Minister]. Back
Qq 349-351 Back
Qq 303, 300 Back
Q 475 Back