Villagers ‘under siege’ from gas works at Henley

Contractors' trucks at Henley
Contractors' trucks at Henley

Villagers in the tiny hamlet of Henley between Midhurst and Fernhurst say they are ‘under siege’ in their homes due to a road closure for gas works.

Contractors began laying a new gas mains pipe along Old Henley Lane last month between the junction with the A286 and the former Syngenta site at the other end of the village.

It has meant weeks of disruption and road closures with villagers saying they are sometimes unable to reach their homes.

Villager John Trueman, former editor of the online promotion website Midhurst Pages told the Observer: “The lives of Henley folk have been utter turmoil. There was a day last week when I couldn’t get back to my house as the lane was blocked by vans, lorries and huge gas pipe rigs, and I had to spend the day in Midhurst cafes and sitting in my car at Benbow Pond.

“Nobody knows from one day to the next which bit of the lane is going to be a first world war trench-scape all over again.

“I’m fed up with moving ‘No Entry’ signs and putting them back when the road is blocked near my drive entrance, and providing answers to anxious pub-goers about how they get access.

“We are all infuriated that we are under siege - we can’t leave our homes in case we can’t get back again and we can’t just abandon our cars and walk loaded down with bags of shopping.”

He said the nightmare had been exacerbated by further chaos when foresters descended to cut back trees threatening the overhead power lines on Henley Copse.

In addition he said villagers were deeply concerned about a water leak in the road outside the entrance to the Duke of Cumberland pub which was causing the road to subside.

“West Sussex County Council can’t seem to resolve the problem and if it carries on into winter when the water freezes it will become even more dangerous.”

A spokesman for gas network company SGN Hannah Brett said: “We’re currently working to upgrade our gas network in Henley. This project involves us replacing old metal mains with modern plastic pipe to ensure a continued safe and reliable gas supply to residents of Henley and the surrounding area for many years to come.

“Because Henley Old Lane is so narrow, we have temporarily closed the road to through traffic to ensure everyone’s safety around our work area. This road closure will be in place until early November.

“We’re maintaining residents’ access to the village at all times. We are making every effort to keep driveways clear and we would encourage any residents with concerns about access to their property to contact our engineers on site.

“We appreciate roadworks can be frustrating and we thank local residents for their patience while we upgrade our network. The new plastic pipe has a minimum lifespan of 80 years. This means that when our project is complete, local homes and businesses will continue to enjoy the benefits of a safe and reliable gas supply long into the future.”

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