A FARMER in Somerset has had to travel a 16-mile roud trip to visit his cattle for the last two years after a bridge closed and never re-opened. 

Willow Farm Bridge, situated in Burrowbridge (between Taunton and Glastonbury), was closed following a structural assessment by the Environment Agency in January 2022. 

Roderick Hector, who farms near the bridge, used the bridge to tend to his cattle daily, and twice daily in the summer. However, since the closure, Mr Hector has been forced to travel a 16-mile round trip to visit his livestock. 

“As you can imagine, it is very hard work travelling to attend to the cattle," said Mr Hector.

"It takes a long time to go around. I have spoken to the EA and their attitude is that it just doesn’t matter.”

According to the Environment Agency, the maximum capacity for the bridge was reduced from 7.5 tonnes to 3 tonnes. Hence, making it unsafe for motor vehicles. 

There are plans to replace the bridge, but the Environment Agency hasn't given a time scale. 

The Scottish Farmer: The shipping container at Willow Farm Bridge.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: "As the bridge is now unsafe for normal vehicle loading, we tried to restrict use of the bridge through notices and fencing but these were deliberately damaged. We then resorted to limiting the bridge to pedestrians only by positioning a shipping container to limit access.

“There are proposals to replace the bridge, but these will need to go through normal bidding and funding rules within the Environment Agency. As with all major capital projects, this will take time.

"We have spoken with local landowners about the closure of the bridge. Our understanding is that no third parties have rights of way across the bridge, but we are happy to discuss this further with any individuals who would like to contact us.”