CAMPAIGNERS fighting for the removal of a steel fence on Den Lane in Uppermill refuse to celebrate despite winning a concession from land owners Network Rail.
More than five months after the unsightly grey structure was erected, Network Rail staff have returned to undercoat and paint the 750 foot long barrier between the road and the Leeds to Liverpool train line.
But the company has yet to start planting ivy and other vegetation to further disguise a structure dubbed “monstrous” and “pointless” by some residents.
Network Rail has also refused to replant trees inside the boundary felled to make way for the fence and others removed, closer to the track, as part of a nationwide removal scheme of up to 13 million trees.
However, it’s understood the community has been offered an unspecified amount to re-plant elsewhere in the area.
The mass culling on Den Lane has led to the Friends of Saddleworth campaigning group raising concerns over disturbance to wildlife, especially the local bat population.
They are now waiting results of a recent survey to determine if bats were disturbed by the tree felling and fence erection.
One Den Lane local said: “It’s a shame the emphasis is on the fence when so much destruction has been needlessly done.
“When you put in a fence, you split an ecosystem and create an island which is more prone to disease.
“I have hardly seen a bat all year. The damage has been done.
“The painting it green is as pointless and meaningless as the fence itself.
“Someone has just ticked a box saying concerns have been dealt with, when in fact they have not.”
Cllr Derek Heffernan, who has supported their campaign, told last month’s meeting of the Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership: “It has taken a long time but some small progress has been made in that the fence has been painted and there will be plants put in.
“But has the damage already been done, and the wildlife scared off as its habitat has been destroyed?”
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We are waiting the last delivery of paint so we can complete the fence painting in the coming weeks.
“Once this has been done we will finish planting the ivy which will grow on the fencing, helping to blend it into the surrounding area.”