Further instability identified on landslide-hit road

An independent report commissioned by Somerset County Council on a road hit by two landslides in two weeks details the potential for more such incidents.

Chinnock Hollow near Yeovil has been closed since 21 February 2021 following a significant landslide involving 20 tonnes of rock and sand as well as a large tree. The debris rolled down the side of the 12-metre wall of the hollow, burying part of the road below. This followed a less serious incident just a week before.

The Council’s Highways team closed the road to the public immediately after the landslide and due to the seriousness of the incident began investigations into the likely causes, actions needed to secure the road and potential hazards moving forward.

Following an investigation into ownership, vegetation clearance and ecological assessment, the Council requested an in-depth engineering inspection and report into the problem area last autumn.

This has detailed how there is a substantial risk of another landslide, potentially even larger, in the same area of the hollow. It has also detailed how in the course of the investigation, engineers spotted further areas of instability at different points along the road but would need to carry out further in-depth assessments to understand the hazards involved.

The report is available to download here

Options to make the immediate area around the landslide safe and reopen the road are outlined, including a £200k scheme to secure a section of the slope.

However the report is clear this does not remove the risk of further incidents along the length of the road.

Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport said: “The hope was that this report would provide immediate answers but in fact we’re now presented with further questions and serious concerns about the rest of Chinnock Hollow.

“We are asking for more investigative work to be carried out so we can ascertain the true cost and nature of the engineering work needed.

“We completely understand people’s frustrations, but let us be clear, there is substantial risk of this happening again, potentially on an even larger scale.

“We simply cannot entertain putting the public at risk, and it’s clear that even a relatively small scheme to make the immediate area of the landslide safe does not remove the risk in other areas of the road.

“That is why we need more information and a detailed understanding of how we remove the risk along the whole road and why it is not possible to open Chinnock Hollow in the short-term.”

Engineers are now carrying out detailed inspections along the length of Chinnock Hollow with a view to delivering feasibility and costings for a scheme to ensure the whole road is made safe.