THE construction area of the A466 between Tintern and St Arvans will not be re-opened until the road is safe, Monmouthshire County Council reiterated in a recent statement.

As reported last week, repair work to the roadside embankment on a stretch of the A466 has repeatedly fallen behind schedule – the most recent estimated completion date is August 2.

The local authority said in a statement that safety on the road was its priority, and stressed the engineering difficulties of the task at hand.

Local frustrations have been exacerbated by the latest deadline extension.

Tintern is a tourist hotspot and business owners there rely on the busy summer period as their most profitable time of year. But the road closure and lengthy detour have contributed to a sizeable loss of trade for the village.

Last week, community councillors, county councillors, and local MP David Davies visited the construction area amid growing anger from residents and business owners at the failure to get the road re-opened.

The visitors learned about the complicated process of drilling into and securing the steep limestone rockface above the road, and heard how complications around nesting bats meant the work could not have been started earlier in the year.

Mr Davies said: “This greatly restricted the kind of work that could be carried out, as well as making it necessary to wait until the spring – scant consolation to those who are losing business during the peak tourist period.”

Tintern community councillor Angus Ashman, who also works as a building surveyor, said there had “undoubtedly been major difficulties”, but described the project’s timescale as “disappointing”.

Cllr Jane Pratt, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for operations, also attended the visit. In a statement from the local authority, she said: “I 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.”