Ash Ranges Phase 1: Access 2nd April 2022
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has now confirmed that as part of Ash Ranges Phase 1, the road along the southern part of the Ranges, referred to as Area E5, will be reopened from Saturday 2nd April 2022 to the public. This is at all times when the red flags are not flying. This includes all of the existing road surfaces within Area E5 that became restricted in 2020.
These phases were first described following the visit from the MoD Minister Jeremy Quin and Michael Gove MP in September 2021. Michael Gove MP then published a letter describing a phased reopening to parts of the Ash Range complex. The letter summarised that the Technical Areas (e.g. the dugouts and firing ranges themselves) are to remain closed. However, the reopening of Ash Ranges was proposed in two phases. Phase one would reopen the road / hard-standing when the flags are not raised and phase 2 would open an East to West route.
Statement from The Chairman of APC
Following the reopening of Ash Ranges Phase 1, Cllr Nigel Manning told Ash Parish news that:
“ I am extremely pleased that the MOD has opened up part of the Firing complex for public access at all times, when the red flags are not flying, from Saturday 2nd April. This area runs from Enfield Road to the Normandy Hill Corner. This will enable all residents to have access to a formal tarmacked road as well as flat grassed areas and woodland.”
“The access gates into this newly opened up area, have also been improved for easier access. This finally completes one of the hard-fought-for public access, to part of the Ash Firing Range Complex, which was previously stopped by the MOD in April 2020. The MOD has advised me that the East/West corridor, connecting the perimeter path to the Range Danger Area (RDA) is expected to be finalised later this year”.
Cllr Manning was asked to comment on when Area E5 south would be joined to Area E7 leading to Furze Hill (North) by hard standing. Whilst he was not able to provide any further detail at this stage he did confirm that this is under “active review” and advised that there are logistical problems to resolve first by the MoD. He did however confirm that Phase 2 is expected to be finalised this year, which will describe an East to West route.
Local residents have widely reported the existence of a new double gate adjacent to Enfield Road which at this phase will remain closed. This road was previously used to connect to the Heath Vale Bridge Road via the main gate. As a consequence from 2nd April, 2022 residents will continue to be required to use Enfield Road and Chambers Road at this to access Area E7 (North) and beyond. The route is via unmade private roads, which are unsuitable for those less able.
Improvements to perimeter access and pathways
Sections of Area E7 (North of the Swan Pub) have suffered flooding leaving the pathways often impassable during wet periods. As part of ongoing maintenance, the MoD has now installed a raised pathway to mitigate this issue. This was installed in March 2022.
After the closure of access to the hard standing within the range perimeter fence, the MoD laid new compacted pathways to connect sections within Area E5. Bridges were placed to cross ditches and uneven sections. These however have not fully compensated for the loss route that was previously available prior to the 2020 lockdown. They have however been used regularly by residents for both pleasure and exercise, demonstrating the communities determination to regain access to the hard standing routes.
In preparation for Phase 1, the ground surrounding access gates has been improved with compacted surfaces. These areas have previously suffered from mud and puddling.
This map was published by Michal Gove MP following, which was included in the letter received from Jeremy Quin MP.
Ash Parish News has created the map below based on the information provided by Jeremy Quin MP’s letter on 14 October 2021 and the latest statement by Cllr Nigel Manning following his meetings with the MoD. This map will be reviewed and validated following the reopening on 2nd April 2022. The Existing perimeter path beyond Furze Hill North and Normandy Hill in Area E5 South is rugged. If this map is inaccurate please leave a comment.
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