THE campaign to save Queensbury Tunnel and reopen it as a walking and cycling feature has been praised by MP Iain Duncan Smith.

The former Conservative Party leader had been invited to see the project by Queensbury Conservative councillor Andrew Senior.

“Mr Duncan Smith had been invited by the Party to give a talk at a dinner at the Dubrovnik Hotel, in Bradford, and I saw it as a great opportunity to invite him up here to see what the Queensbury Tunnel Society campaigners are hoping to achieve,” said Cllr Senior.

“He was very positive about it and I am more optimistic about its future now that it has attracted public attention.

“It would be a great shame if it was lost for ever.”

The 1.4 mile long Victorian structure was built in the 1870s under the village of Queensbury, but has been derelict since 1956.

Highways England’s Historical Railways Estate (HRE) - which acts as the custodian of the disused railway on behalf of the Department for Transport - is looking at abandoning the 1.4-mile long Victoria structure and fill it with concrete at a cost of £3 million.

The QTS has obtained figures and believes the tunnel could be repaired for around the same cost.

However, Highways England is willing to hand over the tunnel and provide the £3 million to anyone wanting to take the project on.

Bradford Council has agreed to look into adopting the structure and is preparing for its own engineers to assess the cost of repair before it makes any firm commitment.

Mr Duncan Smith, who stood as Bradford West candidate against incumbent - and returned - Labour MP Max Madden in the 1987 general election, said he thought the restoration project was an excellent idea.

“I lived in the area from 1985 to 1987 and know all about the tunnel, though it those days that is all it was.

“I am completely in favour of it because it is sad to see these great examples of Victorian engineering go.

“It is a great community project by people who want to reclaim it.

“I do not want to step on the local MP’s toes but I will certainly speak about the campaign to the Secretary of State on her behalf.”

Norah McWilliam, campaign leader for the Queensbury Tunnel Society said she was delighted Mr Duncan Smith had taken an interest.

“We are pleased he is going to approach the Secretary of State and speak about the project for us.

“Then, if Bradford Council is brave enough to take it on we will have the tunnel here for future generations.”