Tunnel lights to go out at night

SAFETY FEARS: Earlsheaton History Group members Gerald Egan and Betty Goodwin outside the tunnel near Station Road last year when the greenway plan was first put forward.
SAFETY FEARS: Earlsheaton History Group members Gerald Egan and Betty Goodwin outside the tunnel near Station Road last year when the greenway plan was first put forward.
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LIGHTING designed to make a disused railway tunnel safe for walkers will have to be switched off every night to protect bats.

The tunnel, part of a proposed greenway route through Earlsheaton, would be plunged into darkness each day from dusk until dawn.

Council officers wanted to wait to see whether CCTV cameras were also needed, but police have insisted on their installation.

Heavy Woollen planning sub-committee heard the tunnel, now closed to the public, had once been the site of drug taking and criminal activity.

One woman, who lives in Sands Lane, said: “I can’t understand why you would want to open a tunnel that was locked up for us residents.

“The tunnel bends so no matter how many lights you put up it won’t be safe to the public. People are getting attacked on other parts of the greenway. What’s it going to be like in a tunnel?”

Dewsbury Regeneration Board first put forward the idea as part of its Outdoor Dewsbury initiative to improve the area’s green spaces and potential as tourist destination.

It has won backing from transport charity Sustrans as well as the support of North Kirklees Ramblers and Earlsheaton History Group.

The proposed greenway extension would run between Preston Street and the Wakefield boundary, via a 170 metre tunnel.

After the issue of safety was raised at earlier public meetings, the council set aside CCTV funding for three years in case it was needed.

But crime reduction officer Roger Day told the committee: “We need to be able to monitor CCTV so that if anything was occurring in the tunnel, not only could we record it but we could also call the relevant services.”

Another local resident said: “You’ve said you’re going to look at incidents to decide if CCTV is needed. How many will it take?”

Planning officers recommended approving the plans with a CCTV system made a condition. The committee deferred its decision for a site visit.