Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Have your say on ‘ugly’ rail gantries

A DROP-IN meeting to discuss the electrification of the railway line in Goring has been announced.

A DROP-IN meeting to discuss the electrification of the railway line in Goring has been announced.

Network Rail representatives will answer questions from the public at South Stoke village hall on Friday, October 23 from noon to 8pm.

In March the company began installing steel gantries that will hold up overhead cables along the tracks.

However, a residents’ protest group says they are unsightly and spoil the appearance of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Goring and South Stoke parish councils, Henley MP John Howell and the Chilterns Conservation Board have also objected.

Network Rail doesn’t need planning permission as the gantries are covered by permitted development but it is legally obliged to consult  residents.

Meanwhile, the action group is about to launch a website and promotional video in a bid to draw more attention to the issue.

The video, filmed and edited by Goring resident Ron Bridle, shows the effect of the work on the landscape and includes interviews with objectors.

The group wants to mount a legal challenge to stop the work and hopes to attract a lawyer who will work pro bono.

Chairman Ian Haslam said: “We want to get the message out further. People come from miles away to enjoy this beautiful area and they are affected too.

“If Network Rail lost a legal challenge it would have to pay a lot of money and I doubt it wants to do that. We don’t expect them to act on conscience but hopefully we can persuade them it’s in their interest to listen to us.

“We’re not against electrification — far from it. It’s long overdue but it has to be done properly.”

Mr Howell said he had received a letter from Network Rail acknowledging its failure to properly consult. He said he hoped to attend the drop-in session.

Network Rail says it will hold more drop-in sessions.

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