After visiting over 100 landowners we now have oral agreements for the route, although it has still to be finalised in New Hutton. The steering group would like to express its immense gratitude, and that of residents in the parishes, to the landowners for their generosity and community spirit in allowing the network to cross their land. Without their support our communities would be unable to undertake this self-help project.
The network will extend from an electronics cabinet at the J36 Auction Mart to one at Old Hutton Public Hall and another at New Hutton Institute, the last two being financed largely by SLDC. From J36 there will be a trunk line on each side of the M6, one in the east following roughly the lane from Nook to Barkin House and then the B6254, and one in the west near the lane from Crooklands to Gatebeck, Beckside and Old Hutton. From there the route goes to Ewebank in the east and to various places in the west of New Hutton parish. Essentially, the route is a figure of 8 with spurs off to Millness, Cow Brow Foot, Sillfield, Low Bendrigg and other places. The figure of 8 is important to provide resilience. This means that if the trunk route is damaged in one place by, say, a digger, the signals can be sent around another way with little interruption. Such an event might happen during its lifetime as the network should be functioning for 100 years with little change. Meanwhile, the Lupton group has been laying duct in a long spur from the A65 via Old Town to the northern end of the parish. In order to increase the resilience of our network further, we have been working in the last month to establish a route from Barkin House to their network so that we have two completely different paths across the A65.
B4RN has now authorised two members of the steering group to sign wayleave agreements on their behalf. In the next few weeks we will visit our hundred landowners to review the routes in detail now that we have walked them and have photographs along them. This will take a considerable length of time. Once the agreements are signed, the work can start at the convenience of the landowners. Much of the land is still growing grass for silage and so cannot be entered. We also know of some land where the owner wants the work done during September before it is ploughed.
We have had a good response to the call for volunteers, 102 have said they will definitely help and another 81 have indicated they might do so. Some have already helped with route walking. When we start the duct-installation phase their help will be needed to aid the contractors using the machinery. We will be relying on local champions to organise neighbours to decide exactly where service lines should go from the main network to houses. Neighbours will probably want to help each other to install the service ducts through gardens. We hope to start setting up a local champions group soon. Little work can be done until landowners have firmly agreed the exact route of the network so that we know where the access chamber for each hamlet will be.
If you have any questions, or want to know who to get in touch with in your parish, please see our contact details.