REPAIR work to the roadside embankment on the A466, between St Arvans and Tintern, has fallen behind schedule – with part of the hold up due to three of the contractors’ four specialist drill heads getting stuck in the limestone rock face.

The A466 will remain closed until the work is completed.

The new completion date is August 2 – it had originally been scheduled for July 19, but as of last Friday had been pushed back to July 26.

As reported in the last month, business owners in Tintern have been experiencing a significant loss of trade while the road has been closed – a period which has coincided with the start of the busy tourist season.

Speaking this week, one business owner in the village said: “We’re a tourist area, we need the summer [trade] to get us through the winter.

“We’re getting really concerned – it’s going on and on.”

An email sent out recently by a Monmouthshire County Council official, and seen by the Free Press, revealed the date had been pushed back to August 2 – news the business owner called a “disaster” for those residents who relied on the A466 as the main artery for business and travel.

In that email, it was said that the contractor, CAN, had eight operatives working 12-hour shifts for 11 days in a fortnight; and that there were “between two or three drilling rigs on site at various times”.

But the drilling equipment had experienced what was referred to as an “unprecedented” problem, with three of CAN’s four drill heads becoming wedged in the rock face.

The problem “reflects the difficult limestone rock formation that [the contractors] are working in,” the official wrote.

The email said the local authority and the contractors had negotiated the possibility of doing double shifts, in an effort to speed up the completion of the project, and that the contractor had “agreed to see if it is viable”.

In response to news the A466 works would be delayed until August 2, a spokesperson for Monmouthshire County Council said in a statement: “We understand the frustration of residents and businesses.

“We understand and empathise with those affected.

“Our priority is to ensure that this road is safe. It will not be reopened until it is a safe route to travel through.

“We are working with the contractor to ensure completion of this highly complex engineering scheme as soon as possible.

“Tintern in is still open for business and people can access Tintern via other routes. Please do come and enjoy all that the beautiful Wye Valley and Tintern has to offer.”

Monmouthshire council’s Lower Wye Area Committee is meeting today (Wednesday) at Chepstow Leisure Centre, 10am, with an update on the A466 closure as part of the agenda for that meeting.