THE group campaigning to save the disused Queensbury Tunnel from abandonment and turn it into a cycle path has launched an ePetition to gather support.

Members of the Queensbury Tunnel Society said the structure is under threat because of proposals by Highways England’s Historical Railways Estate (HRE) - which maintains the tunnel on behalf of the Department for Transport - to block it up.

The Government department said the cost of sealing the tunnel up would be about £3 million. It has also previously said the cost of refurbishing the tunnel into a cycleway would be upwards of £35 million - something refuted by the tunnel society.

The society said a specialist engineering team visited the tunnel in the summer and produced a report on remediation options for the group.

A spokesman for the society said: “It found that a proportionate repair scheme could be implemented for £2.81 million.

“The Society believes that this would transform the tunnel from a liability into an asset, allowing it to repay that investment over time through social, environmental, health and economic benefits.

“When funding allows, the ultimate intention would be for Queensbury Tunnel to form part of a cycle path network linking communities between Bradford, Halifax and Keighley. However the tunnel would have to be secured within the next few months as HRE’s abandonment works - which are due to start next year - will put it beyond reuse.”

Norah McWilliam, who leads the Queensbury Tunnel Society, said: “We are not seeking any public funds beyond those already committed to the tunnel; we only want them to be spent in a way that isn’t destructive.

“Our aim is to save the structure for future reuse, delivering maximum benefit and value for that £3 million. It’s about the legacy we leave for future generations.

“We need the Department for Transport to grant a stay of executive - suspending HRE’s work - while stakeholders carry out a full assessment of the tunnel’s great potential and its associated challenges.

“It’s now or never for our historic tunnel. This is a once-only opportunity.”

Sign the Queensbury Tunnel petition.