INCREASED heavy traffic to a Forest poultry farm is threatening to collapse the historic Clearwell Caves, says the mine owner Jonathan Wright.
Mr Wright says the owners of Clearwell Farm have greatly increased the numbers of 44 ton lorries traversing a cattle grid directly above a vast underground cavern.
They have now applied for retrospective planning permission for additional buildings on the site.
Mr Wright has written to Forest of Dean District Council planners saying a support pillar in the cavern is already showing signs of cracking and is in danger of collapse with possible fatalities.
He said: “It is totally outrageous that they should do this work and then apply for retrospective planning permission.
“There is material evidence that the current use of the driveway is inappropriate.
“I have previously drawn the awareness of the council to the very large caverns lying beneath the access road to the farm with the largest cavern directly beneath the cattle grid access to the farm.
“This cavern is supported by a pillar that now shows signs of stress through faulting and with continued use at its current increased level is likely to cause irreversible damage to the cavern making it liable to collapse.
“The cavern is large enough to easily swallow several 44 ton lorries and their drivers.
“The proposed industrial scale development is inappropriate for the Clearwell area and the fact the applicants seem totally unconcerned by the fragile cavern being driven over by thousands of 44 ton lorries is alarming.
“This should be evidence enough for the couincil to refuse this application on his own.
“The application threatens access to the mines, which would affect the viability of this part of the commercial activities operated by Clearwell Mine Management Ltd.”
Mr Wright said the heavy traffic visiting the farm would damage other tourism based businesses in the area.
The council planning development recommended approval for the application, provided the weight of HGVs visiting the site is restricted to 36 tonnes.
Applicant Mr Stephen Hay, of Lower Cleeve Farm, Ross-on-Wye, was asked about the application but he declined to comment.
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