A HERITAGE group has been raising its concerns over plans that could block a railway route.

The Eden Valley and Stainmore railways have for a long time been working towards the relaying of five miles of track between Warcop and Kirkby Stephen.

Last year, however, National Highways infilled a stone arch bridge at Great Musgrave, blocking the route.

Eight months ago, the Government paused all further infilling schemes due to the controversy caused by the work at Great Musgrave, however, the programme is expected to resume later this year.

A spokesperson from Historical Railways Estate (HRE) said: "The work was carried out during May and June last year under powers intended for emergency situations presenting a threat of death or injury, with the material allowed to remain in situ for no longer than 12 months.

"The Council has insisted that planning permission must be obtained for retention beyond this period. National Highways has now submitted its application, with a decision due by May 27.

"Infilling set taxpayers back £124,000 and, according to an internal review, National Highways now believes that restoring the bridge for rail use could cost as much as £431,000."

Mike Thompson, project manager for the Stainmore Railway Company, said: "We believe infilling conflicts with the council’s policies on new development, biodiversity, landscape character, green infrastructure and heritage assets, as well as the protection of dismantled railways under consideration for reopening.

“We ask anyone who recognises the importance of our wonderful railway heritage - and its value for future sustainable transport use - to object to National Highways’ planning application. This was a fine, historic structure in good condition."

National Highways has made a public commitment to remove the infill if it is the last obstruction to the railways’ reconnection, but campaigners have questioned whether this commitment is binding.

Comments about the Great Musgrave application can be submitted online via Eden District Council’s planning portal, searching for case reference 22/0254.