Following an extensive period of observation, public debate at Sandstone Open Meetings and internal discussion and a vote within the Harrison’s Rocks Management Group (HRMG), the decision has been taken to install a bridge to the Isolated Buttress at Harrison’s Rocks.
This is a decision that has not been taken lightly, with opinion on a potential bridge being split down the middle amongst climbers at the latest and previous Sandstone Open Meetings. In situations like this, the BMC and HRMG always try to take account of the views of the climbing community and support the majority where possible, but in this case there was no clear majority for either side of the argument. Instead, the HRMG had to weigh up both sides and balance this against the BMC’s legal obligations as a landowner. More background on the arguments for and against the bridge can be found in this article.
Undoubtedly, the decision to install a bridge will disappoint some climbers who argued against it, but the BMC and HRMG hope that the decision taken will be respected. All members of the HRMG are keen local climbers and volunteers who have spent a huge amount of time deliberating over a decision that they knew would never be able to please everyone. Two meetings of the HRMG were needed to make the decision due to the difficult and complex nature of the situation. The minutes of the meeting can be found here and detail the reasoning behind the decision to install a bridge.
Rik Payne (Chair BMC London & South East Area) who chaired the second (voting) meeting of the HRMG on the Isolated Buttress summed up the meeting: "Before Christmas the HRMG met to make a decision on the access issue relating to the Isolated Buttress at Harrison’s Rocks. As someone impartial, I was asked to Chair the meeting, to allow all the members of the HMRG to speak freely. I was very impressed with the nature of the debate at the meeting. The members spoke passionately about the many varied aspects of the access issue, but there was also respect for each other’s views in what was a collaborative discussion. This is a divisive issue, and some will not be happy with the conclusion the HMRG has come to. But I would ask all members to respect the decision they have taken. It was only made after a lengthy, honest and open debate, at which both sides of the issue were admirably represented."
The next step is to find companies who can install a bridge, get quotes for the installation and hopefully appoint a contractor to begin the work. Given the unusual nature of the work, this may take some time, but the BMC, LMG and HRMG are hoping to get work underway as soon as possible and are now actively looking for companies with appropriate experience and structural designs for the intended purpose. Further updates will be posted as and when progress is made.
The Access and Conservation Trust
The BMC's charity – the BMC Access & Conservation Trust – promotes sustainable access to cliffs, mountains and open countryside by facilitating education and conservation projects across the United Kingdom and Ireland.
By educating climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to enjoy outdoor recreation while minimising their impact on the landscape, conserving the UK’s upland resources, and campaigning for improved access rights, ACT enables future generations to continue to enjoy outdoor activities and the physical, mental and social benefits they bring to individual lives and society in general.
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