HIT THE BRAKES: Holy Island land train plans put on hold
County bosses have hit the brakes on plans for a land train to ferry visitors around Holy Island.
The scheme prompted a storm of opposition after it was announced, with objectors branding it ‘tacky’ and claiming it would turn their homes into a ‘theme park’.
But a proposed four-week trial is now set to be shelved until a further round of consultation can be held with families and businesses living and working in the area.
Glen Sanderson, the leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “There’s no denying the spiritual and historical heritage of Holy Island, and it truly is a remarkable place.
“There’s been a groundswell of opposition to the proposed land train, and we recognise and acknowledge the concerns and issues raised.
“For that reason, we’ve requested the licence for this operation be put on hold by the UK Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), to give us time to consider these, and agree a way forward that protects this special place and addresses these concerns.”
He added: “It’s important we collectively agree what’s best for the island and pausing the current trial will help us agree a way forward together.”
Plans for the land train were submitted as a ‘Covid-friendly’ alternative to the shuttle bus currently operating on the island, taking tourists from the village’s main car park to Lindisfarne Castle.
Opposition to the proposals saw a petition started which, at the time of writing, had gained almost 9,000 signatures from opponents concerned about the impact it would have on the island.
Nicola Douglas, who started the petition, said: “We are very happy to have been heard by the county council and look forward to further consultation.”
Licenses to operate ‘land trains’ for tourism must be approved by the VCA.
Following outcry over the proposals, a trial run of the service was proposed to ‘assess its impact on visitors, residents and the overall manoeuvrability’ around the island, but this will now not be held until more views are collected.
Rob Coombes, chairman of Holy Island Parish Council, said: “I think it’s good we’re all working together to resolve this situation, now we just need to wait and see what happens.
“All the facts need to be heard on how it will affect the island community before a final decision is made.”
Steve Wood, of Woody’s Taxis, in Berwick, who had applied to operate the service, was contacted but declined to comment further.
The VCA has been contacted for further details.
Words: James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporter
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