The ‘complete closure’ of Macclesfield Forest following Storm Emma has raised a few eyebrows, so I called United Utilities to find out more
Talking to United Utilities I’m assured that the whole forest is not closed – just a number of sections of footpaths and bridleways. These sections are where there has been a significant fall of trees – at times in the hundreds on single sections alone – and United Utilities’ harvesting team need to do a considerable amount of work to tracks or make safe sections where there are still branches and trees overhead at risk of falling.
I’m told that the biggest problem they are facing at the moment is people removing tape or signage explaining what’s going on and there is a legitimate safety concern about users on those paths. It’s not in their interest to simply blanket close paths and that’s not what’s going on.
I’m also assured me that these closures are not a stepping stone to removing access to any user group in the forest. It’s purely so they can manage the removal, making safe and tidying of the hundreds of trees that have fallen throughout the forest. It will be restored to absolutely how it was before, I understand.
It sounds like the biggest challenge is that there are simply so many trees down that the closures and diversions seem like a blanket. It might take a while to sort it all out so the best advice is follow the signs on the paths and anticipate your planned Macc Forest ride might be affected.
I’ll stay in touch with UU plc to keep you updated.
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