A CONTROVERSIAL cycleway along the A39 in West Somerset could be extended after Somerset Council received a further £1.5 million to encourage cycling and walking.

The grant came from Active Travel England and the council is considering using it on delivering a new section of the cycle and walk route between Carhampton and Minehead.

Earlier this year, the council faced a public furore as people were angered by months of slow progress with construction and massive traffic disruption on the A39 as the first section of cycleway was built between Minehead and Dunster.

The poor delivery of the £1 million project eventually led to the council removing its contractors and calling in another firm to complete the scheme, which was opened in July.

Now, the council has said it could complete the route through to Carhampton if a feasibility study showed it could be delivered with ‘minimal disruption’.

It said the project would benefit school pupils in Carhampton where currently there was no dedicated cycling provision, and an existing shared path had restricted width due to vegetation encroachments.

Somerset executive Cllr Mike Rigby said: “Our team is looking what is possible and looking at ways of getting this done that will cause minimal impact to residents and road users.

“Exploratory work has been undertaken to assess the current conditions and width of the existing path by clearing away vegetation and encroachments to determine the viability of recovering width over longer sections of the route.

“Initial investigations have had positive results, and the team are now considering working methodology for undertaking clearance work from Carhampton through to Dunster efficiently with minimum disruption to the travelling public.

“It is possible some of the public may wonder why we are spending money during the current financial emergency.

“To reiterate, this is Government money, directly from Active Travel England, and can only be used on improving active travel routes.

“We cannot use it on other services during the current financial emergency.

“It is important that where we can the council continues to invest in infrastructure and sustainable methods of travel.”