South Gloucestershire Councillors Sue Hope (Cotswold Edge) and Claire Young (Westerleigh), and Chair of Acton Turville Parish Council Chris Farrell, have met with Network Rail managers to discuss the ongoing rail electrification works, and to relay the concerns of local residents.
Sue Hope said: “There have been some serious communication problems with the way that Network Rail have gone about this project to date. Masts have been improperly erected without informing local people; we have now been told that one of these will be removed. We were originally told that there would be no masts erected along the line through the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) during the course of the August-September works, and that this would happen at a later date. But we are now told that masts will be going up imminently. Similarly, residents have been sent letters telling them that works will be taking place on certain dates only for the dates to change, without notice. The level of misinformation on such a big public project is mind-blowing. We expressed our dissatisfaction with this last-minute and seemingly chaotic approach.
“Network Rail acknowledged that some of the letters they have sent out have contained incorrect information and have apologised for this. They promised to put more effort into communicating with residents going forward, and have been sending out teams to door knock local residents, to inform them of the changed plans for August-September.
“We also expressed our concern about what we see as the unnecessarily secretive process that Network Rail have taken over its plans to meet its legal responsibility to preserve the character of the AONB. We understand that these plans will shortly be made public, but it is extremely last-minute considering that masts will start going up in the next few days. We understand that masts will be shortened along some of the route through the AONB, to mitigate their impact, which is welcome. We also welcome the promise by Network Rail to hold further public drop-in meetings to discuss the works with residents. We will be lobbying Network Rail to make sure that further steps are taken to mitigate the visual impact of the masts, and will keep residents informed of further developments.”