Road scheme sparks fury

The disused railway cutting at Lightshaw Lane Abram

The disused railway cutting at Lightshaw Lane Abram

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FURIOUS residents are threatening a Judicial Review of a controversial roadway.

They are angry that the Lancashire Wildlife Trust has been given the go ahead to clear trees and vegetation before laying a crushed stone surface along the old one-kilometre-long standard gauge railway track bed in Golborne to create a private road.

The Trust says it needs the access to get sufficient heavy plant onto the Lightshaw Meadows special scientific interest (SSSI) site to build a new wetland habitat rich in habitat by improving the floodplain.

The project is being funded by a Heritage Lottery Grant.

But immediate neighbours insist that the railway - which once took coal from Garswood Hall pit to a “tippler” on the canal bank up to half a century ago - has now regenerated into a wildlife corridor in itself and must not be disturbed.

Clive Tyldesley spoke at the Metro’s development meeting as objectors’ witness to warn councillors that the 750 metre long trackbed is now home to several birds listed in the ‘Red Book’ for threatened species.

After losing the planning battle he revealed that he felt so strongly about the issue he is now considering funding a potentially expensive legal challenge. Mr Tyldesley said today: “We used to see up to five roe deer on the railway until the trust cleared part of it.

“Now they are never seen and we fear that the same thing is going to happen to the bird life when they start working on the other parts of the line, as well.

“I am talking to my solicitor about the legal options open to me because we found the planning meeting and the way it was conducted very disappointing indeed.

“We made very, very strong arguments about the wildlife and the safety concerns that creating this road will make and yet they were all just brushed under the carpet.”

Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s head of operations Mick Weston said: “We are delighted that LWT has received planning permission for the access track, as this means we will be able to start our important work improving the site.

“We are disappointed that Mr Tyldesley is now threatening to invoke a Judicial Review of the decision.

“We will continue to work closely with Mr Tyldesley and other neighbours on the site, to make sure there is minimum disruption caused by the track.

“The aim of the project is to restore the area for the benefit of key habitats and species, using the combined expertise of The Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Red Rose Forest.

“Following recommendations from a Tree Report, there will be minimal scrub clearance to ensure the access track is safe and replacement trees and shrubs will be planted to improve biodiversity in these areas.

“Any work carried out will be done in a way that causes minimal disruption to the local residents and will be carried out by trained professionals.

“The long term conservation plan for Lightshaw Meadows will see the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Red Rose Forest use their expertise to improve habitats for wildlife.

“Without the work on site, the land will fall into disrepair and we could lose important rare animal habitats and species in this area.”

But Labour Coun Ann Rampling criticised the scheme.

She said: “I know that the Trust are trying to do their best but there are a lot of very rare species of birds that have made their home on the former railways line since the trees have grown.

“In fact the bird population is absolutely thriving there and should not be disturbed because once they are gone they could be gone forever.