A PROTEST group set up to campaign for the removal of an aluminium fence next to a historic railway viaduct in Uppermill a planning use it to display artwork by local children.

They will also paste copies of scores of emails sent to chief executive of Network Rail, Andrew Haines.

Organisers of the Friends of Saddleworth group, set up when the fence was erected in Den Lane two years ago say Mr Haines has never replied to one of their emails.

However, the group, which has claimed Network Rail has failed to fulfil a verbal promise to plant trees in the community to replace the ones which were cut down next to the Manchester to Huddersfield railway line, says it is refusing to give up its fight.

Network Rail has previously said the trees and bushes were cut down and the fence was put up to prevent trespassers gaining access to the line.

The group has now been joined by Saddleworth West and Lees councillor Sam Al- Hamdani, who said: "Since getting involved with the campaign, it has been very frustrating that Network Rail seem to think they can just brush this off, showing no interest in communicating with me or the community.

"We simply want them to do what they have said they would do. We don't really want pictures of wildlife; we want the real thing.

"If Network Rail would simply take down the sections of the fencing that they agreed to, and go ahead with the tree planting in the community, they would find a very supportive audience."

He went on: "While this is a lovely form of protest and a way of making the fence look better, we want our natural environment looking after, we want the real flowers, the real bats, the real jays, foxes badgers and deer."

A box is being put next to the fence and local people are being to insert their artwork. The artwork will be laminated and displayed on the fence along with the emails, organisers say.

Network Rail have previously denied promising to contribute cash for the community or plant trees.

As reported on March 5 by The Oldham Times, a Network Rail spokesman said: “As a publicly funded organisation, we cannot and do not donate money to community groups as ‘compensation’, as is being claimed was promised in this case, for work that we are legally entitled and required to carry out to secure the railway boundary and keep the public safe.

“We appreciate some local people are still unhappy with the safety fencing we had to put up to stop dangerous trespassing onto the railway at Den Lane in Uppermill.

"We have planted ivy to help the fencing blend into the landscape. We are also working with ‘Manchester City of Trees’ to replant trees which needed to be removed for the upcoming Transpennine route upgrade.

“However, after Network Rail meetings could not find a satisfactory compromise for campaigners, we have advised them to contact the Office of Rail and Road if they wish to take this further.”