MOTORISTS using the Severn Bridge fear constant shut-downs will lead to its closure.

Police say they now adopt a 'safety first' approach to stopping traffic using the bridge in high winds. New rules introduced by Avon and Somerset Police now ban all vehicles crossing when gusts are 45 knots or above. Previously high-sided vehicles were banned but cars were allowed to cross.

"It is no longer considered appropriate to let any vehicles use the bridge when wind speeds are considered dangerous. Safety is the paramount concern," said a spokesman.

But hundreds of Forest businessmen and workers were left fuming on Tuesday morning when they found the bridge closed.

"It was a perfect morning. There was hardly a breath of wind yet the bridge was closed and we had to endure a massive detour to cross the river," said John Watkinson, of Alvington.

A bridge spokesman said they were surprised the crossing was closed but the decision was made by the police and they "expected high winds."

Avon and Somerset Police said it was not considered appropriate to open the bridge for short periods and then close it again as it created even more problems.

Lydney businessman Charlie Edwards is among local people concerned the closures will eventually end in the death of the bridge.

"I appreciate the weather has been unkind but it seems to me that the bridge is being closed more frequently and for longer periods than ever before. There is a real concern that all this will end in the permanent closure of the bridge," he said.