Angry campaigners staged a dramatic protest outside County Hall in Beverley this week as East Riding Council decided they would no longer protect the route of a proposed rail link between Hull and York.
The group want the council to preserve the route’s protected status which was granted in 2005 with a view to opening the line, which would run via Beverley, again at some point in the future.
However the council’s decision will now open up the route to developers, provided the East Riding Draft Local Plan is formally adopted.
The council decided to remove the protected status because they think building the rail link would be unrealistic before 2029.
Devastated campaigners showed their anger on Wednesday by burning a 10,000 signature petition, collected in 2005 supporting the idea of reopening the line.
A subsequent feasibility study, commissioned by the East Riding Council, concluded that re-opening was feasible and the Council agreed to protect the identified route from development.
Chairman of the Minsters’ Rail Campaign George McManus said: “The contempt shown by Council leaders illustrates that multi-thousand signature petitions carry no weight at the East Riding Council.
“The public need to be made aware of the contempt in which they are held by Council leaders and to see petitioners details going up in smoke will we hope highlight this.
“The Council’s total lack of vision and absence of ambition needs to be challenged before it’s too late.
“Even at this Eleventh hour we would appeal to sensible members of the East Riding Council to keep the door open on the prospects for reopening the line. “All we’re asking for is the status quo and that the Council resists sacrificing long term benefits for the sake of a short term expedient .
“This is about us and future generations and we don’t want to see our dreams of a better East Yorkshire going up in smoke.”
Not everyone at Wednesday’s protest was in favour of the railway line, Chris Everington, who lives on the proposed route said: “If this line was built significant villages like Wilberfoss and Dunnington would still not be serviced.
“I could understand if there was a railway between Market Weighton and York but between Beverley and Market Weighton there is quite a lot of open space and there’s really no need for a line.
“I am delighted to see so few people here today.”
Symon Fraser,cabinet portfolio holder for forward planning function at East Riding Council, said: “People need to be clear on what the council has decided, the old historic track bed, where it still exists will remain protected and any potential developer would have to consider that.
“We have removed the protection from the route proposed in 2005, where in many places there has never been a railway line before.
“We are not closing the door on the idea, if in the future funding becomes available we could look into a new route for the Beverley to York line, the 2005 route is simply no longer the most suitable.
“In 2005 the estimated figure for reopening the line was £250million but now it would be around £350million.
“To be frank, if the council came into £350million of government funding now, I think we would much rather spend it on something like improving flood defences, which is a higher priority at the moment.”