A PROPOSED statue of a world-renowned Usk scientist in his hometown would be “detrimental to highway safety”, according to a report.

Plans to build a bronze bust of Alfred Russel Wallace on a pedestrian island in Twyn Square were submitted by Usk Civic Society in January.

Wallace, who was born in nearby Llanbadoc, is best known for developing the theory of evolution through natural selection independently of his more famous contemporary, Charles Darwin.

If approved, the bust would sit atop a plinth which would also feature two plaques – one of the Malay Archipelago, where Wallace did extensive research, and the other showing birds of paradise.

Hereford-based architects Hookmason, who designed the plinth, say the monument would be an “important civic contribution to the life and work of Alfred Russel Wallace and his association with Usk”.

A report adds: “The installation allows public visitors to safely and comfortably view the bust and interpretation board and help further understanding of Russel Wallace’s significance in history and his association with the area.”

But Monmouthshire County Council’s highways department has lodged an objection against the plans on safety grounds.

Council engineer Mark Davies says the group’s proposal to extend the existing pedestrian island would pose risks to pedestrians.

“I would offer objections to the proposal, and particular the proposed location, as the proposal is considered to be detrimental to highway safety,” he said.

“[It is] encouraging pedestrians to cross sections of road without appropriate DDA compliant (Disability Discrimination Act 2005) crossing facilities and to congregate on an island between live carriageways.”

Mr Davies adds that pedestrians, including those “less ambulant”, will be expected to cross between parked cars in the bay outside the Nags Head Inn.

He also raised concerns about no pedestrian drop kerbs being proposed on the western or eastern pavements of Twyn Square.

“The island’s purpose is to segregate traffic from pedestrians providing a crossing point and refuge for pedestrians to wait and cross between traffic, and not designed for pedestrians to congregate,” he added.

“The congregation of pedestrians may give rise to confusion and create a distraction to motorists.”

The report recommends that the application is refused and suggests Usk Civic Society choose a different location, namely outside The Old Chapel in the square.

County planners could still approve the application once it reaches committee in the coming months.