Protesters get plans on track

Angry residents will tonight meet officially for the first time to oppose a series of rail communication masts that could be put up in Northumberland.

The Bardon Mill opposition group

Angry residents will tonight meet officially for the first time to oppose a series of rail communication masts that could be put up in Northumberland.

Network Rail is planning to erect 10 of the 29-metre masts at points on the Newcastle to Carlisle line - including five in Tynedale - but has had to put plans on hold after they caused outrage with residents.

Tonight's meeting will see people living near the different sites discussing how best to sustain opposition to the masts.

Steve Gibbon lives yards away from one of the proposed sites in Bardon Mill, which was featured in The Journal last week, and has been instrumental in setting up the meeting.

He said: "We will continue to fight this as long as we can and we will not be getting complacent. Feelings are still running very high and we are holding the meeting to discuss what we can do as a community."

A total of 280 invitations to the meeting have been hand delivered to people living in the immediate area. Mr Gibbon said that a number of email invitations had also been sent to those living close to where other masts could be built.

In Tynedale these include Riding Mill, Fourstones, Hole House and a site on the industrial estate in Hexham.

Government run Network Rail does not have to get planning permission for the masts, which will allow train drivers and signal workers to communicate - as they have permitted development status under the Town and Country Planning Act.

Mr Gibbon said: "We have not invited Network Rail to this first meeting but we will be seeking consultation with them at the earliest opportunity thereafter."

A Network Rail spokesman said: "The work to erect railway communication masts on the Newcastle-Carlisle line in the North-East has been put on hold while we carry out further discussions and consultations.

"We are happy to consult and communicate with the local community about this essential safety programme as we have nothing to hide."

The meeting will be held tonight at Henshaw First School, near Bardon Mill, Northumberland, at 7.30pm.

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