Row over ‘jarring’ rail barrier at coastline spot

The section of fence at Beacon Hill which has led to concerns being raised by Durham Heritage Coast.

The section of fence at Beacon Hill which has led to concerns being raised by Durham Heritage Coast.

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Guardians of the coastline are not sitting on the fence as they demand that rail chiefs to rethink barriers they say are blighting the landscape.

Durham Heritage Coast (DHC) – which campaigns and champions the stretch from Ryhope to Crimdon – has called for Network Rail to change the barrier at Beacon Hill, in Easington Colliery.

Niall Benson, Durham Hertiage Coast officer.

Niall Benson, Durham Hertiage Coast officer.

It says the company installed the industrial-style galvanised steel palisade in December without consultation and believes the railings are “unsympathetic, unsuitable and visually jarring”.

Network Rail says it has offered to paint them green, but DHC claims it has said it has not responded to requests to change it or discuss further areas of fencing.

Niall Benson, heritage coast officer, said: “On this issue we have been extremely disappointed by their lack of consultation, their lack of consideration for the landscape and poor response to communications.

“It has taken many years of extremely hard work to restore our coastline to its current condition.

On this issue we have been extremely disappointed by their lack of consultation, their lack of consideration for the landscape and poor response to communications.

Niall Benson

“It is therefore all the more difficult to accept this unsightly fencing and an act of corporate vandalism, which is greatly impacting on our beautiful coastal landscape.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris and visitors have also raised concerns.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Safety is Network Rail’s main priority, and following numerous reports of trespassing on to the railway near Easington Colliery, we have been left with no choice but to insert fencing along the border of the railway to protect the public from danger.

“This type of fencing must be used in areas where there are known trespass issues, although we agree that the striking white colour is not in keeping with the area and have agreed to paint the fence green in order to combat that.

“In time the vegetation in the area will grow back, which too will help provide a more natural-looking boundary between the footpath and the East Coast Mainline.”