ATUK Great Dunmow – our biggest and most challenging project to date!
Many of you will have seen our social media post and seen and maybe even contributed to our major crowdfunding appeal to raise the necessary funds to allow us to complete our biggest project so far. This was to repair damage caused by off-piste driving in woodland alongside the byway which would involve heavy plant requirements plus the installation of 41 gabion baskets and around 50 tonnes of stone!
Way back in February the planning commenced after a member’s vote agreed to kick start the funding process by committing £1000 from the ATUK maintenance fund – a decent catalyst to encourage others in raising the required budget of around £4000. Further group contributions soon followed from Essex Land Rover Club £500, the Green Lane Association £500, Beds Herts and Cambs Land Rover club £250, Land rover Series 2 club £50, Essex TRF £300, and the Friends of the Flitch Way £500 plus numerous private individuals contributing to the fund meant we were soon confident to set a date of Saturday 11th May to carry out the work.
Very soon it became clear to those of us managing the project that we needed to run this like a professional construction project with all the necessary safety rules and regulations to be complied with. Health and safety of our volunteers and other helpers on the day would be paramount. With support from Essex County council and Great Dunmow town council we were able to secure closure of the byway on the day of the works, however some public access was always possible, so our planning accounted for this too.
Sourcing a contractor with the right sized machines who was available on the day at the right cost and with the correct insurance turned out to be one of our greatest challenges! Eventually our local contacts found Rawleigh and Joe from RMR contracting who agreed to support the works with the required 360 digger and dumper truck for the day at a significantly discounted cost. Thanks guys!
Welfare of our volunteers was of course important, so portable toilets and a catering facility also had to be found. The excellent Trott & Whinny attended and kept us all fed with their superb Gourmet burger selection from their well sorted kitchen in a converted horse box trailer towed by a Land Rover Defender, so fitted in well!
Finally, the day arrived, and the organising team arrived on site at 0700 to meet the Digger team and prepare the site for the arrival of our volunteers from 0800. Always a nervous moment, but our team of volunteers who had confirmed previously by email that they would support the event, all duly appeared, and we had a great team of over 35 people working throughout the day – including representatives from all stakeholder groups – vehicle users, ramblers, horse riders, cyclist and local residents including the local councillor.
Sunshine, showers and fairly wet ground conditions after a week of rain made life interesting at times, but after a series of safety briefings, excellent progress was made with around 2/3rds of the 41 baskets completed and filled before lunch.
The afternoon session soon finished off all but the final section and then spent time tidying up the byway and clearing the remainder of the stone whilst the digger guys demonstrated their skills and the capability of their machine by flattening and grading the woodland area that had been so badly damaged, before the final few baskets were positioned and filled in record time.
The final job as the volunteers departed site ready no doubt for a hot bath, was for our officers to place CCTV on site with the required legal signage. This being a crucial aspect of the project to prevent a repeat of any damage.
All in all an excellent event which not only produced a great result in terms of the work carried out to save this byway from potential closure to vehicles, but an superb example of what can be achieved by working together and building bridges with other users of our rights of way.
A massive thank you to all of you who contributed to the successful and safe completion of this project whether by volunteering of supporting our crowdfunding campaign.
Alan King, Health & Safety officer ATUK. 12.5.2019