Landowners in anti-rail link bid

LANDOWNERS have formed an association in a bid to prevent their land being used as part of any proposals to revive the historic rail link to Southwold.

LANDOWNERS have formed an association in a bid to prevent their land being used as part of any proposals to revive the historic rail link to Southwold.

Many of the landowners live at Holton, near Halesworth, and they are against proposals from the Southwold Railway Society to revive the narrow gauge rail link that operated through the Blyth Valley to Southwold from 1879 to 1929.

A spokesman for the association said: "We live in Holton and, together with other landowners whose land would be affected, have formed a group against the project - the Holton Landowners Association."

The group will send a letter to the Southwold Railway Society informing them that "under no circumstances" would they be prepared to sell land for the project.

"While this is naturally driven by personal preferences it is also strongly motivated by the desire to maintain the Blyth Valley as an environmentally sensitive area and to retain is natural beauty," said the spokesman.

Southwold Railway Society has still to receive the letter from the landowners association but chairman John Bennett believes there is support from landowners as well as opposition.

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"We have tried to contact all the landowners along the line. It has been difficult and we may have inadvertently omitted someone," he said in a foreword in the society's proposals for the new heritage railway.

A public meeting held in Blythburgh last nightvoted strongly against the railway proposal.

More than 40 residents gathered in the village hall after the parish council called the meeting to gauge people's feelings on the issue.

Speaker after speaker condemned the proposals and residents were not persuaded by possible changes to the original scheme announced by the railway society that would see a park and ride scheme and oil recycling depot moved out of Blythburgh.

The latest proposals from the railway society see the park and ride facility and its associated restaurant moved from land at Blythburgh close to Toby's Walks north of the river Blyth to the edge of the Henham Estate.

The oil recycling depot would also be moved from Blythburgh to an area close to the proposed station near Southwold Pier.

Although the vast majority of villagers at the meeting were against the railway going ahead there were those present who wanted to see it go ahead and this was reflected in a vote taken at the end of the meeting with 33 voting against the railway and eight in favour.

The parish council will consider the feelings of the residents on the matter when it discusses the railway proposal at its next meeting in November.

The minutes from last night's meeting will be sent to Southwold Railway Society.

READERS wanting to have their say on the possible revival of the Southwold to Halesworth Railway link can vote in the EADT ballot.

More than 1,000 people have already had their say on the proposal.

With so many readers wanting to take part the poll is being kept open to give as many people as possible a chance to vote on the £6.5 million scheme proposed by Southwold Railway Society.

The narrow gauge steam railway would largely follow the original route from Halesworth to Blythburgh used from 1879 to 1929. But from Blythburgh it would reach Southwold in a different direction by crossing the River Blyth close to the present A12 road bridge before turning under the A145 and A12.

The route to Southwold would then pass through Reydon Marshes and includes a level crossing at Mights Bridge.

It is this new section of the track that has caused concern to many people who have fears on traffic and environmental grounds.

The EADT believes it is vital that as many residents as possible have their say on such an important issue.

Completed ballot papers can be handed in at: Purdys Newsagents, High Street, Southwold; Reydon Post Office; Patrick's Newsagents, Market Place, Halesworth; or EADT editorial office, 25 Market Place, Halesworth.

Alternatively, completed coupons can be sent to Southwold Railway Ballot, EADT Newsdesk, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.