A letter has been published in the local paper expressing support for the proposed new bridleway. It is written by an equestrian and it gives some idea of the benefits for horse riders and other potential users.
Of course, the job of the decision makers is to balance these possible benefits for future users with other effects that might reasonably be predicted if the plans go ahead.
The decision makers (your local councillors) will be informed by representatives of Stockport MBC (who have the job of collecting information and assessing costs and benefits) to enable a decision to be made which is, on balance, in the best interest of Chadkirk Country Park and the people who enjoy this unique environment.
The previous decision to give the scheme the thumbs up was made in the absence of key information about the site. And with a rather flawed consultation exercise, which failed to even inform significant groups of the plan.
Now that the plan is being re-evaluated, it is possible that there will be a more effective assessment of the site and the effect that the scheme might have on current users as well as any future projected change in visitors to Chadkirk.
Whereas the previous information on which the decision was based did not show the current footpath, the re-evaluation will now take this into account.
This footpath is well used and offers a delightful walk from the car park, along the stream and then on through Little Wood. Under the previous proposals this path would close.
How would the planners and decision makers estimate the value of this loss?
Similar questions arise over other losses.
Much work has been done by a number of groups – Stockport MBC, Friends of Chadkirk, The Prince’s Trust and other environmental groups – conserving and enriching threatened habitats. A path 3 m wide around the edge of Coronation Meadow will affect a precious environmental resource. How to take into account the loss of wildlife and the biodiversity which this area of grassland supports? A loss certainly. Though how to measure it and give it a value is harder to judge.
Then there’s the opportunity costs. Money spent on one thing isn’t available for other purposes. Money spent on a new bridleway is not available for maintenance of existing amenities. The budget in this area is already stretched. The existing facilities at Chadkirk would benefit from some TLC.The car park? Paths? Visitors will have made their own observations of areas that might benefit. So here’s another choice. Money spent on a new bridleway will produce benefits for some. Would spending this money on existing paths and facilities be a wiser user of resources? And how many people would feel the benefits of this kind of improvement?
When councillors of Werneth Area Committee meet on December 8th, they will be making a decision about what is in the best interests of Chadkirk Country Park and the visitors who value this special place. This time they will have more information on which to base their decision.