At their peak, landslide repairs will cost in region of £1m a month

Cllr Steven Bridgett at the landslip near Rothbury.
Cllr Steven Bridgett at the landslip near Rothbury.

Work to a landslip near Rothbury, which has taken nearly two years to start, will have machinery on site by the end of the month.

Coun Steven Bridgett told Rothbury Parish Council last Wednesday that plans were on track to have operations in full flow shortly.

Coun Bridgett also explained that repair works ‘at its peak’ would cost around £1million a month.

He said: “They have begun work, they’ve started preparing some of the ground. They’ve created the site compound in front of Cragend farm which is where a lot of the equipment and the heavy machinery will be stored.”

Speaking to the Gazette after the meeting, Coun Bridgett said he was told by the workmen that the work would cost around £3,000 per hour. This includes costs for workmen, machinery, electricity, etc.

A Northumberland County Council spokesman said: “Coun Bridgett’s figures are broadly correct given that this phase of the works is valued at £7.3 million and is programmed to take around 10 months.

“There will be a significant peak in construction activity in the middle of this period, where substantial engineering works will be undertaken, resulting in expenditures of approximately £1million per month.”

The spokesman told the Gazette that plans for the machinery to be on site has been placed for early next week.

The original budget for the scheme stood at £7.6million, which included £4.9million of government funding. The nature of the ground and the amount of further drainage to be undertaken will require the council to commit a further £1.5million. Therefore the council’s contribution has increased to £4million.

The site, which has been closed to the public since 2010, has proven to be very complex in terms of the ground conditions, particularly the need to deal with groundwater springs. This has led to the extensive drainage works being carried out on site which will need to be further enhanced during the construction of the project.

Eight boreholes, up to 55 metres deep, have been installed, together with 80 well points six metres deep. These have been tested and commissioned and will be used to control groundwater during the construction works.

A geotechnical investigation and study of groundwater has informed the proposal to build a retaining wall along the side of the road and provide permanent deep drainage so that the road remains stable in the long term.

Access for the ground investigations and eventual construction works has been complicated by the amount of drainage that has had to be undertaken and by the unstable nature of the ground and access difficulties.

There will also be an added cost of electricity to run through the site which Coun Bridgett said was ‘not just for the site compound’, but also because there would be evening and night-time work taking place.