CAMPAIGNERS refuse to concede defeat in their battle to have a “pointless” metal fence removed at a picturesque Uppermill location.
Despite opposition to the 750-feet long barrier and tree felling at the leafy Den Lane location, Network Rail (NR) erected the fence during a week-long operation last month at a cost of £30,000.
NR officials insist the fence, put up in the shadow of Saddleworth’s Grade II listed Victorian railway viaduct, was required to prevent trespassers accessing the main Manchester to Leeds track.
But residents insist the action is disproportionate to the size of any perceived problem.
They also claim more than 40 trees have been chopped down and strewn strategically in an attempt to deter off-road bikers.
An online petition has received more than 300 names of support and a visible protest was held on High Street in Uppermill on Whit Friday.
Spokesman John Matthews has also written to chief executive Mark Carne asking for NR to remove the fence and erect it closer to the track.
Speaking after the protest John said: “We now have a strong group of intelligent hard-working people, that can work to get this monstrous fence put where it will do its job.
“Currently, even though the fence has been erected, if someone wanted to get onto the track, they could. The fence is pointless. It is a £30,000 act of stubbornness.”
In his letter to Mr Carne, John wrote: “Of course the people of Uppermill want a fence to make the railway safer.
“What is absolutely clear is nobody wants it where it is and the look of it either which is not in keeping.
“We are all appalled how your company has behaved. If you came and had a look you would instantly see that the fence where it is makes no sense whatsoever.
“It is an act of vandalism of the greatest order and is not justifiable in any way.”
John also claims the work has disturbed a roosting site of bats as other wildlife, including owls and jays.
“After dozens of calls, e-mails and letters we still have not had a site visit nor spoken to anyone in person,” he added.
A spokesperson for Network Rail said all works were carried out where there is an “imminent threat of death”.
“For safety reasons we have replaced broken fencing at Den Lane, Uppermill, after a train driver and railway workers spotted young people trespassing trackside.
“Safety is our top priority. Trespassers risk life, limb and hefty fines.
“A fence at the top of the embankment wouldn’t stop children from accessing the site and using it dangerously with off-road motorbikes or push bikes.
“British Transport Police is aware of the trespass problems we have had at this location. We are working with their officers to keep this area safe.
“A number of small trees were felled to make way for the replacement fence. Vegetation management has also been carried out because of the upgrade of the railway from Manchester to Leeds.
“When we do have to take action to complete survey works and reduce risk posed by trees and vegetation, we undertake ecological surveys, inspection and sweeps, and are particularly mindful during bird nesting season.”
Oldham Council said as work has been carried out on NR land no planning permission was required.
To sign the petition calling for NR to reverse its decision go online: you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/remove-the-fence-on-den-lane-uppermill-saddleworth