Sandown Cycle Track
It has been announced that the track at Alverstone is to close for 6 months. This is to prevent migrating eels being sucked into the Sandown reservoir.
After making some initial enquiries we were concerned there seemed to be little knowledge of the planned work. We asked for a quicker response, which thanks to the Council's Rights of Way team we received. The work is being carried out by a contractor for Southern Water. Island Roads, the Council's contractor, did know in December of SW's plans though officers of the Council were unaware of the nature of the works until the beginning of February.
CycleWight decided to contact Southern Water ourselves. You can read their reply. Below - Further information on the program of eel screens can be read here.
The work itself entails the installation of a screen in the river supported by a steel structure and a surrounding access platform to allow SWS to maintain the plant. In order to operate and control this, pumps are to be installed, a power supply and a motor control centre. A combination of draw pits and crane pads require excavating and electrical and mechanical works are involved with the installation of the screen (washwater system and boll filter). If you have any availability I would appreciate the opportunity to talk to you through in more detail what we’re hoping to deliver.
"The working area identified has been assessed as the minimum required to safely install the screens, several activities take place in tandem. To facilitate multiple activities taking place simultaneously various welfare units will be required (this is also exhausted by Covid working arrangements). Two mobile towable welfare units will be available along the cycleway with a temporary compound in the Alverstone Mead area with construction traffic moving between this and the site works area. Therefore, pedestrians will not be able to move past the towable welfare safely. In addition to the heavy traffic moving between the site welfare, cranes, excavators, and delivery vehicles will need to park and set up on the cycleway and continually block it. It’s not a matter of keeping people 200m away, it’s due to the road becoming blocked."
We have considered the timing of the works, however due to environmental constraints principally due to water voles, along with the impracticability of undertaking the works in the flood plain during the winter months, the works need to be undertaken over the spring/summer.
We appreciate and apologise for the impact this will have on the recreational enjoyment and commutability of the local community, however they are works that Southern Water are legally obliged to undertake.
In relation to the short notification provided, we have been working with Island Roads since December to confirm diversion routes.
I wanted to provide further context of the work, the European Eel is a critically endangered species. In recent decades, the global European Eel population has undergone a catastrophic decline; numbers are now estimated at just 5% of what they were in the 1970s. With eels previously representing >50% of standing fish biomass in most European aquatic environments. As such they are now protected under the Eels Regulations.