A RESIDENT has criticised work to clear part of the former Stockton to Darlington Railway line to create a tourist spot.

Fred Wright, of Brusselton, near to Shildon, is angry at work to clear the Brusselton Incline of overgrown brambles, nettles and bushes.

The work, being carried out by the Brusselton Incline Group, has been approved by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and English Heritage.

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Mr Wright, 65, said: “It’s criminal vandalism. They’re cutting down everything that is growing. Basically all that was needed was for them to clear a path up the middle.

“Birds and wildlife use that area and this is environmental vandalism.

“They are going to promote the area to get people to visit. We’re private residents and we don’t want bus loads of people coming.

“There’s been no thought and no-one consulted those of us who live up here. There are other people who live near to me who are angry about this.”

Mr Wright is to speak to English Heritage staff at the site tomorrow (Tuesday, April 1) about the issue.

Michael O’Neill, secretary of the Brusselton group, said: “We are only doing what we were told to by the Secretary of State.

“We’re not cutting back too wide an area. We’ll organise a system to look after it so that it does not go back to how it was before.

“We’ve had a survey done regarding bird nests and we didn’t find any. We’re not doing this to upset anyone we’re trying to improve the area.

“I would expect some interest in the area when we have finished and then it will tail off.”

An English Heritage spokesman said: “The work will be completed before the bird nesting season begins to ensure it does not interfere in any way with the local wildlife.

“We gave consent on behalf of the DCMS on March 12, and advised on a work schedule.

“The railway is one of the first in the world. Clearing the site will provide safe access and allow visitors to appreciate the nature of the monument.”