Bosses still exploring cable car viability
PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 January 2015
THE financial feasibility of a cable car running through a Somerset beauty spot will be revealed to bosses next month.
Three years ago, Longleat Estates, which manages Cheddar Caves and Gorge, published its plans to create a cable car through the beauty spot.
But despite the stated aim of submitting a planning application by August 2012, nothing has yet been received by Sedgemoor District Council.
Cheddar Caves and Gorge director Hugh Cornwell said: “We do need a big idea and big investment in Cheddar.
“And the big idea, which I always thought was a good one, was for the cable car.
“We will be getting a financial feasibility document and that will come out at the end of February.
“All of the ideas will have to be costed, and we have to be fairly certain it is an investment we can afford.
“If it does show we are in a good position to move forward with the formal planning application.
“But we will not know until the end of next month and the trustees will have to take a look at it.”
The document will reveal whether the scheme is financially viable over a 30-year period.
Mr Cornwell said this was unusual, as most studies on other projects look at the feasibility over a 10-year period.
When the cable car idea was broached in 2012, it was met with opposition from some campaign groups.
The National Trust said a cable car would be ‘inappropriate’ as it is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
And in 2013, the Somerset Campaign to Protect Rural England said the plans were ‘flawed’ and would cause ‘unacceptable disturbance and damage to the upper gorge’.
Mr Cornwell said: “For me it is much more difficult because if we don’t do the cable car, what are we gong to do in Cheddar?
“I started 26 years ago, and Lord Bath wanted a cable car well before that. So this idea is not new.”
If the project goes ahead, it is likely that the car would begin at Cox’s Mill.
Longleat says it would give people who do not normally visit the top of the gorge the chance to enjoy the views.
Mr Cornwell said: “Most people either sweat up the steps and along the slippery footpath and enjoy the view, or they do not bother at all.”