Monday, 27 September 2021

Gantries could be replaced

PROPOSALS for new, less obtrusive gantries along the railway line through Goring should go out to consultation in the spring.

Network Rail has repeated its promise to unveil alternative designs to the bulky steel structures it installed as part of the Great Western main line electrification almost four years ago.

A similar consultation was due to take place earlier this year but was cancelled at the last minute, prompting fears among opponents that their protests had been sidelined.

However, following a meeting between villagers and Henley MP John Howell, the company has confirmed the existing gantries could still be replaced if this is affordable.

The alternative designs could include a slimmer, T-shaped structure with a single supporting pillar in the centre of the tracks, although this may not be possible from an engineering perspective.

Alternatively, the existing gantries could be repainted to better fit in with their surroundings or screened off with trees.

Ian Haslam, chairman of the Goring Gap Railway Action Group, said: “We’d anticipated that Network Rail were pulling back but they’ve said they’re still engaging us over possible mitigation measures.

“They’ve made changes to what they’re proposing for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“This is good news in some respects but we will wait and see what they come up with.”

Network Rail says the consultation was delayed due to talks with the management boards of the Chilterns and North Wessex Downs AONBs.

The gantries didn’t need planning permission as they are “permitted development”.

However, opponents claim they are unlawful because work in an AONB must preserve or enhance its appearance and they say the gantries are unsightly.

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