Residents’ fury over preparation for busway

A visual impression of a guided section of the finished busway
A visual impression of a guided section of the finished busway

ANGRY residents have criticised contractors carrying out work on the controversial Leigh Guided Busway for what they believe is the excessive chopping down of trees and damage to the local environment.

The complaints have been made by people living near the former railway line in Tyldesley which is being turned into the guided concrete track that will make up the section of the busway between Leigh and Ellenbrook.

The residents say a large swathe of trees has been taken away by workmen, leaving their back gardens fully open to view from the new busway, and have also criticised the lack of communication between the authorities and themselves.

However, TfGM has robustly defended the conduct of its contractors, saying residents had been kept fully informed of the work being carried out and tree planting schemes were being carried out across the area to compensate for any green space lost.

Work began on the multi-million pound busway, which will run on a special guided track before continuing into Manchester in a priority bus lane and has been designed by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), last year.

Karen Gaynor, of Unsworth Avenue, said: “Initially we were informed there would be minimal cutting down of trees, but now they are taking more.

“They’ve also done the work in stages, because if they’d taken all the trees in one go people would have gone mad.

“They then sent another letter about a week ago saying more trees needed to come down and there seems to be no real chance of doing anything about it.

“It’s also bad news for the wildlife in this area, and what’s particularly annoying is there’s a lot of open land on the other side of the old railway line, and instead they’re encroaching on the houses.”

“Our garden used to be very secluded but now we can see people walking past. Everybody on our road is unhappy about it, and there’s a real concern it will affect our security.”

Peter Boulton, TfGM head of programme management services, said: “TfGM has kept its commitment to keep local residents and businesses fully informed about the construction of the busway.

“We wrote to residents in November last year and again this month about the site clearance works and have visited dozens of people in their homes.

“TfGM has a strong environmental commitment and on any construction project we aim to remove as few trees as possible. The clearance work has been done strictly as necessary in line with the developing scheme plans, which are on our website.

“TfGM has pledged to create community woodland, close to Higher Folds, of around 40,000 trees in an initiative supported by the Forestry Commission.

“We have also been working with local primary schools in Tyldesley, providing felled timber to create amenities, such as art displays and benches, and planting fruit orchards in school gardens.

There will be extensive re-landscaping both during and after the construction of the guided busway, alongside extensive replanting of trees, hedgerows and woodland.

“There will be a pathway for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, and screening for local houses close to the route.”