Two mile-long Victorian tunnel controlled by Highways England to be transferred back to Wales
A two-mile-long victorian tunnel in the Rhondda which is currently under the control of Highways England will be transferred to Welsh ownership, the Secretary of State for Transport has said.
Campaigners are hoping to connect communities in the Rhondda and Afan valleys by reopening the 3,443 yard tunnel built in the 1880s as a route for walkers and cyclists.
If it secures enough money to be developed, it will be the longest cycling tunnel in Europe and the second-longest in the world.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said that the “mines rescue service is ready to dangle the Secretary of State down a hole” so that he could have a look at the project.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, said that he had “done a bit of research” and it transpires that England’s highway body “owns the tunnel at the moment”.
“I would be happy to transfer it to a local group, the Welsh Government or the local council, with money for the purpose,” he said.
“The hon. Gentleman is welcome to take that up, and I look forward to taking up his offer of a harness at some time in the future when I can see it fully open.”
The Rhondda Tunnel Society was established in 2014 and has more than 850 members, with Welsh actor Michael Sheen among those backing the project.
Chris Bryant said he hoped to see Grant Shapps there soon “because, frankly, the harness is ready”.
“If we are able to reopen it as a cycle path, as many people hope, it would be the longest cycle path in Europe,” he said.
“It would be a major local attraction, which would be good for tourism and jobs in an area of outstanding beauty that unfortunately has terrible financial deprivation. The Secretary of State is welcome.”
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