September 30 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Proposals to more than double the length of the Mid Suffolk Light Railway Museum’s line are being reviewed amid fears the move could affect people’s health.
The proposals at the railway station in Wetheringsett, near Stowmarket, to lay an extra 600metres of track had been going through the planning application process when they were withdrawn in May.
John Stark, the vice-chairman of the railway – affectionately known as the Middy – said there were a “number of objections” from residents and concerns expressed by Wetheringsett Parish Council and environmental health worries.
A senior environmental protection health officer said as part of the consultation: “The locomotives (steam and diesel) will create noise and fumes and together with their associated carriages will have an adverse impact on residential premises whilst standing or running along the existing and extended line. In the absence of any information on this impact in terms of air quality, noise and vibration, I cannot support this proposal and recommend refusal.”
The Suffolk Wildlife Trust called for an ecological assessment to be undertaken to identify if the line extension would have any effect on existing species.
But now the railway museum and Mid Suffolk District Council are joining forces to try to advance the proposals.
Mr Stark said the review would take a “number of months”. “There are things that need to be done: environmental impact and things like that, it just takes a bit of time and you have got to remember we are a volunteer railway,” he said.
“The plans could bring the railway a boost and would enable us to tell the Middy’s story better – going from a bigger station to a rural part in the countryside.”
Sarah Hucklesby, the planning agent for the railway, said Mid Suffolk had asked for more information.
“We are going through scoping with the local authority, finding out what they need and what information they need from us before another application goes in,” she said. “They want to look at the impact on protected species, which is perfectly normal.
“The railway wants to live with their neighbours in peace and harmony and do not want to upset anybody. They want to get the best possible solution.”
The parish council has said the proposal, which would also include the Wilby Halt – a small station the size of a hut at the end of the line – would have a “detrimental effect” on a neighbouring property.
Lynne Cockerton, the parish’s clerk, had said: “The close proximity of the track and use of the steam engine in such close proximity to Potash Cottage would hugely impinge on the owners’ residential amenity and enjoyment of their property due to steam pollution, smog, smell, noise and intrusion.
“The parish council recommends refusal.”
Mr Stark said other plans to introduce an education room, where visitors would be taught how steam engines and carriages, are restored, were ongoing.