Delayed work has led to further damage

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A north Northumberland estate manager has claimed that road repairs which would have cost £1,500 three years ago will now cost tens of thousands of pounds.

Ian Hall, general manager at Lilburn Estate, has expressed frustration at the fact that nothing has been done about erosion by the River Lilburn alongside the C44 and the Lilburn bridge.

Five years ago, he held a meeting with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Northumberland County Council’s highways department to share his concerns that the river could wash out the bridge and the road.

The estate offered to carry out remedial work to the river banks to prevent further erosion but was informed that they would be prosecuted for using a digger on the riverside, despite it being crossed by tractors.

He then contacted the same agencies again a year later and ‘failed to get any satisfaction’.

Three years ago, another meeting took place and this time it was agreed that Lilburn Estate would carry out some work at the bridge to prevent it from being washed out.

It was also agreed that the county council would carry out work on the river bank to protect the C44 road.

The estate was also to provide the timber to be used in the completion of this work.

According to Mr Hall, the cost of this work was approximately £1,500 along with the timber being supplied by the estate.

Nothing has been done by the county council and the flooding last month has now severely restricted the road.

Mr Hall has said that ‘a conservative estimate to repair the road, fence and put back the river bank to where it originally was five years ago would be in the region of £80,000 to £100,000’.

He described the whole episode as ‘very frustrating’ and ‘a waste of taxpayers’ money because of a lack of common sense, and over-abundance of red tape’.

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “In partnership with local agencies and organisations, the council did a lot of repair work in the Ingram Valley area following the severe flooding in 2008.

“Unfortunately due to restrictions on the work that could be carried out in the area of the water course at this location, it was not possible to make the improvements mentioned.

“We will continue to do what we can to alleviate the problems at this location.”

Mr Hall added that a number of other areas on Wooler Water and the Lilburn also require urgent attention.