/ News / Northern Powerhouse Minister takes to two wheels to explore latest phase of the East Lancashire Cycleway which uses flexible paving made from old tyres

Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister and MP for Rossendale and Darwen, was one of the very first cyclists to try out the latest section of the East Lancashire Strategic Cycleway in his home constituency.

Alongside local cycle enthusiasts, walkers and horse riders, he explored the 1km Britannia Greenway route at Bacup earlier today (20 July). Britannia Greenway is a section of the 16.5km Valley of Stone cycle path, connecting Rawtenstall to Whitworth.

The Valley of Stone itself is one of four routes which make up the East Lancashire Cycle network, the others being Weavers Wheel around Blackburn, National Cycle Network Route 6 linking Accrington to Stubbins, and the Huncoat Greenway near Accrington.

Primarily funded by Lancashire’s Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Local Growth Deal fund, the £5.85m Cycleway programme is on course to deliver 120km of new and improved routes across East Lancashire by 2020.

The aim of the project is to create a joined-up network that will provide improved access to workplaces, schools, colleges, shops and other services, as well as providing tourism and recreational opportunities. The routes are mostly based on old disused railway lines, creating off-road ‘greenways’.

In addition to transforming a rough farm track into a smooth and accessible path for cyclists, the Britannia Green section of the Cycleway in Bacup is also suitable for horse riders, walkers, runners, wheelchair users and baby buggies.

This is thanks to an innovative, flexible paving system called Nu-Flex which is constructed from recycled tyres. The material provides excellent grip, whilst being easy on joints for runners and equestrian users. It is also porous so that water runs through it easily, reducing the risk of standing water and sheet ice in winter.

Jake Berry was today joined by representatives of the British Horse Society, Rossendale Harriers running club and the Northern Grip mountain bike festival who have all been partners in the Cycleway project.

Also present was Steve Smith, Managing Director of Nu-Phalt Ltd which is the company that developed the Nu-Flex product. Mr Smith, who is from Penwortham near Preston, has been closely involved in the installation of the flexible paving at the Britannia Greenway site.

Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry, said: “The East Lancashire Cycle Network is exactly the type of enabling project which the Government’s Growth Fund is intended to support. It will give thousands of people access to a traffic-free network of paths to enjoy a wide range of activities, including cycling, walking and horse riding which will improve public health and reduce the impact on the environment.

“The fact this part of the route is utilising a revolutionary surfacing process, which is made from an estimated 10,500 recycled tyres, also demonstrates how innovative manufacturing can also help unlock economic potential.

“I’m immensely proud that this section of the route has opened in Rossendale, and I’m thrilled that it will be available for my constituents to enjoy for many years to come.”

Graham Cowley, chairman of the LEP’s Growth Deal Management Board, said: “Supported by £2.6m investment from the LEP’s Local Growth Deal fund, the East Lancashire Cycleway Network is on course to deliver 120km of new and improved routes across the area. This means thousands more residents and visitors will be able to enjoy the benefits of cycling, an activity which has been proven to not only boost health and wellbeing but also increase productivity.”

“I am therefore delighted that the Northern Powerhouse Minister has had the opportunity to see first-hand how Growth Deal funding is being used by the LEP in Lancashire to drive regeneration and stimulate economic growth through projects like this.”

In addition to the LEP’s funding, the East Lancashire Strategic Cycleway is supported by Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council. The Britannia Greenway belongs to Rossendale Borough Council.

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