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Scout's campsite faces difficult decision after Collard Bridge is washed away in floods

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

By Will Topps

  • CUT OFF: Collard Bridge near Snapper was washed away by floods which left North Devon Scouting Association's campsite cut off.

  • TAW Explorers' Leader Luke Smith, skills instructor Terry Luxton and campsite warden Don Roseveare at the site.

  • UNDER WATER: The campsite's shooting range.

  • GONE: Campsite one at Collard Bridge was totally submerged.

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THE manager of a campsite used by 3,000 Scouts each year, which was left cut off when floodwater washed away a bridge, faces a difficult decision about its future.

The North Devon Scouting Association's Collard Bridge campsite, near Goodleigh, was almost completely inaccessible after Collard Bridge was washed away when the River Yeo became a raging torrent shortly before Christmas.

It is thought a build up of debris against the bridge caused eddies which eroded at least some of the bridge's supporting structure.

With the bridge weakened it eventually gave way.

The surge of water sent down the river prompted the decision to evacuate people from their riverside homes in Barnstaple on December 22.

With the bridge gone and the only entrance to the 25-acre site, a long and narrow lane off the A39 also flooded, the campsite was cut off. Although there was not much campsite to visit, with large parts of it left underwater fter the river burst its banks and rain ran down from the hills and through the site to join it.

As floodwater receded the campsite was left soggy and littered with debris.

Andy Bowman, the district chairman of the North Devon Scouting Association, says the damage to the site is not as bad as he had feared but he now faces a difficult decision about what to do at the site.

That decision is whether to open to a limited number of campers or to not open at all.

"We've already got bookings and people making inquiries, so we need to make a decision soon, " said Mr Bowman. "A lot of the damage is cosmetic to be honest and can be cleared up with a bit of help.

"We've had an awful lot of offers of help already. At the moment I've said no because I've got to be responsible for people's safety but once conditions are a bit better we can start clearing up."

But the clean up does need to happen soon, with the first campers of the year usually arriving during Easter.

Mr Bowman also has to decide whether or not to go ahead with a £50,000 project to build a new building at the campsite to house Taw Explorer Scouts, who call the site home.

"If we have to close the site because of the access, then we can't necessarily make that investment," he said.

"We won't be able to get materials or equipment on site. It constrains what you can do."

Mr Bowman must make a decision without knowing when, or even if, Devon County Council plans to repair the bridge.

Council spokesman Mike Bomford said: "We haven't been able to inspect the site in any detail yet because the river is still flowing high. The bridge site has been closed off.

"Once we're able to have a closer look, we will, and we'll need to involve the Environment Agency and English Heritage because the bridge had been listed."

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