North Somerset Council has installed lighting within the Strawberry Line tunnel at Shute Shelve, near Axbridge, to illuminate the path during daylight hours to improve visibility for users.
Low-level lighting has been chosen by the council to reflect the rural nature of the site and to minimise any disruption to wildlife such as the protected bat species known to use the tunnel.
The lighting won’t be activated at night in keeping with the rest of the Strawberry Line route.
Due to the complicated nature of the project, some work is still taking place before the council can fully sign it off. For example, over the coming months the council will:
- Continue to monitor the timing of when the lighting comes on / goes off, and adjusting the sensors, and
- Await further assessment by an independent bat expert when bats emerge from hibernation in late spring.
Signage remains in place for health and safety reasons. Users are asked to take care when using the tunnel until work is complete and the council is satisfied that the lighting is operating as intended.
The lighting upgrade was carried out by Centregeat on the council’s behalf. This work was funded by Bristol Water as part of planning conditions for when the company used the tunnel as part of their Southern Resilience Scheme.
Councillor Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and community services, said:
Improving the lighting within the Strawberry Line tunnel has been something that the council has wanted to do for many years, so I’m delighted that we’ve been able to make this happen. This work has made a positive impact for the thousands of people who visit the Strawberry Line every year.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to give some thanks – to Bristol Water for funding this work, to contractors for delivering a quality scheme, to council officers who have worked tirelessly to make this happen, and lastly, but my no means least, to the many volunteers who help to maintain the Strawberry Line.
The tunnel is located in North Somerset Council’s Banwell and Winscombe ward where it has two representatives, Councillors Ann Harley and Karin Haverson.
Councillor Ann Harley, who is also Chair of the Strawberry Line Management Committee, said:
I’ve been an active supporter of the Strawberry Line for many years. It’s such an asset for so many residents and visitors alike. The tunnel sits in what is probably the busiest stretch, so these improvements are vitally important to encouraging people to use the line.
We have exciting plans for further improvements, which will be delivered by working with valued community groups and our fantastic volunteers. I urge people to visit, use the line and get more involved – we’re always looking for volunteers.
Councillor Karin Haverson, added:
The Strawberry Line provides such a great recreational opportunity for walking and cycling, and being able to enjoy our excellent North Somerset countryside. I’m happy that the lighting in the tunnel has been improved as it will help to make this trail even more enjoyable. Thanks to everyone involved.