A main road in Northumberland which is closed following a major landslip is likely to remain so into early 2015, council chiefs have warned.
The B6344, which has been closed near Rothbury since the slide at Christmas, is “possibly the largest landslip to have ever affected a highway in Northumberland” Northumberland County Council is now saying.
Now, the authority has revealed it is likely to be early 2015 before the road re-opens.
The surface of the road at Crag End began to move on Boxing Day, before a section of the carriageway collapsed, forcing county council officials to close it.
The route is one of the main roads in and out of Rothbury and used by visitors to National Trust property Cragside.
It has remained closed ever since.
Businesses have previously voiced fears their trade would suffer as people might be reluctant to make repeat visits to the village, given the longer journeys some face as a result of the road closure.
Last month, it emerged that the Valuation Office Agency had informed all businesses in Rothbury that they are eligible for 10% rate relief.
Now, in an update to a meeting of the council’s North area committee, authority officers have revealed the road is likely to remain closed until the year after next.
It states: “At Cragend we have what is possibly the largest landslip to have ever affected a highway in Northumberland.
“The instability is affecting a 300m length of the B6344 and up to a width of 100m in places. The slip occurred on December 26, 2012 and has remained active ever since.
“The first phase of the ground investigation in the highway and on National Trust land has been completed.
“Phase two of the site investigation in the slope below the highway is underway but is experiencing difficult ground conditions for drilling.
“Extreme water pressures are being encountered in all the holes drilled and numerous boulders are delaying the investigation process.
“The terrain is marshy and cannot support the weight of the drilling rigs but access is being formed using floating timber mats on the very soft areas.
“As a result of these difficult working conditions the site investigation in this area will be completed ... approximately one month behind schedule, although this is not expected to delay the determination of the option appraisal report.
“Monitoring of ground water and progression of the slip will continue until April 2014 although the geotechnical consultants anticipate submitting their draft reports by early January 2014.
“It is anticipated that at this stage a contractor could be engaged to aid and inform the option appraisal stage and build confidence in the cost and delivery of the preferred permanent solution.
“Given the magnitude of works required it is not expected that the road will be re-opened until early 2015.”
Meanwhile, the British Geological Survey has produced a report on the landslip which claims it “puts additional strains on the communities, in terms of extra travel cost, revenue lost and travel time.”
The survey found that the presence of glacio-fluvial deposits - deposits of streams formed by the melting of glaciers - at the site probably contributed to the slide.
The organisation said on its website: “At the site of the landslide, the slopes below the B6344 leading down to the Coquet river are formed in these glacio-fluvial deposits and this is likely to have contributed to the failure of the slope.”