A contract is about to be awarded for the first engineering work on the Rothbury landslip.
The task of drilling 28 boreholes is to go to the lowest tender, county councillor Steven Bridgett told fellow-members of Rothbury Parish Council at this month’s meeting.
Work should start within a couple of weeks and take three weeks to complete.
It will give engineers their first chance to drain excess water from the layers of mud and aggregate which have been sliding downhill since the devastating landslip on Boxing Day undermined the B6344 Weldon Bridge road.
The site is still wet, with groundwater flowing on to the surface of the slope.
The first stage of drilling is expected to be in or near the road and on the upper slopes of National Trust land at Cragside.
Drilling on the lower slope is likely to come later and will depend on the condition of that area.
It appears the slip has slowed to about 10mm a day compared with 25mm to 50mm a day previously.
The county council has applied for Department for Transport funding for the scheme, which could meet 70 per cent of the bill, up to a grant of £5million.
Parish councillors welcomed news from Coun Bridgett of the likelihood of a business rate reduction of 50 per cent to 100 per cent for more than 30 firms in Coquetdale because of the landslip.
Coun Alan Fendley said he had heard of one business where Mother’s Day takings had halved compared with 2012.
* Engineers say sightseers are risking their lives by going around security fencing to trespass on the landslip area.
It ‘represents a significant risk of injury, or worse, to lay persons who will be unaware of the risks present’.
THE FACTS AND FIGURES
The landslip spans 70 metres from the road to the river and 30 metres up to the Cragside estate. It has slowed to 10mm a day compared to 50mm previously.
The road is likely to be closed for more than a year.
The area is in a Site of Special Scientific Interest and any work would need to get the go-ahead of Natural England.
The slip is only a few metres away from the Carriage Drive on the Cragside Estate.
Two geotechnical specialists are looking at the site.