‘No fence’ campaigners driven batty by Network Rail protests

NETWORK Rail bosses are refusing to budge despite on-going protests against the erection of palisade fence and removal of vegetation in the Den Lane conservation area, Uppermill.

Oldham Council has already expressed its concern about NR’s approach to the project while Greater Manchester Ecology Unit has confirmed the number of bats in the area will have dropped due to the work.

Protesters at the Den Lane fence

Protestors formed a human ‘fence’ to further publicise their fight and now say they are being kept in the dark over bat survey data.

Spokesman John Matthews said: ”When all this started out I had no idea the implications of what Network Rail were doing.

“I thought it was just about a fence, about a pretty lane being disturbed.

“But it is not just about a fence. It is about whether a huge corporation is allowed to get away with trashing the environment.”

Protests began after contractors moved in to erect an 800 foot long fence for safety reasons after reporting an incident of trespass on the track.

As part of the work, trees and vegetation were moved in addition to undertaking other tree removal work throughout Saddleworth

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Trees can be felled in a conservation area if it’s in connection with permitted development (erecting a lineside fence is permitted development) and with permitted development there is no obligation to inform the council.

“In the Den Lane area, trees were felled within the Network Rail land boundary, marked by a stone wall.”

Network Rail also said ecological surveys were completed before vegetation and fencing work began on this section of the Transpennine Route Upgrade.

A spokesperson added: “As part of these checks, the area by the railway viaduct in Den Lane was assessed for bats and its potential for bats to roost.

“No locations were identified which had bats or bat roosting potential.

“Network Rail take its environmental responsibilities very seriously – during any vegetation and fencing work, daily checks for wildlife are made at the beginning of each shift.”

An OMBC spokesperson added: “We are looking at possible solutions and are considering options.”

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