Residents locked in battle to reopen public footpaths near Derbyshire canal
Residents are locked in an ongoing battle to reopen public footpaths and bridleways near a Derbyshire canal.
Over 1,600 people have signed a petition to stop a landowner who has allegedly blocked three public right of ways close to Cromford Canal, at the Smotherfly Opencast Site, in Pinxton.
Shane Langton, who created the petition, claims the man has put up iron gates, made blockades of soil and dirt, and constructed hurdles out of trees – making all three paths unsafe for members of the public and horses to use.
He said residents have been calling on Derbyshire County Council (DCC) for over two years to rectify the issue and force the landowner to reopen them ‘before it’s too late’.
Shane added: "About two years ago, the owner of the land down Smotherfly dug big trenches to stop access to footpath six, nine and 28. He then also re-routed the bridleway without any permission onto land that isn’t his, the land actually belongs to Celtic Energy.
"We’ve complained since March 2019 to DCC, the Rights of Way committee, we’ve had a county councillor fighting our cause. A woman has had an accident on the bridleway, it’s unsafe. They should be three metres wide and in places they’re lucky to be one metre wide.
"Derbyshire County Council have had over two years to sort this out with the landowner. They’ve admitted it’s on the wrong route and have sent us maps telling us where it should be but nothing has been done.”
According to documents, DCC gave planning permission to The British Coal Corporation to divert footpaths in the area around Smotherfly for opencast mining, with work starting in 1993 and ending in 1999.
As part of this contract, the site was to be fully restored when work finished, with the documents stating that this “included the planting of a woodland and wetland area” and that it should “reflect it’s former state.”
A DCC spokesperson said: “We are aware of the issues raised by the residents and are doing all we can to get them addressed. Issues like these are complicated and can take some time to resolve, but we are doing all we can to reinstate access to the footpaths by working with the landowners.”
The Derbyshire Times has attempted to contact the landowner for comment.