A PLANNING application to infill the historic Queensbury Tunnel has reached its 7,000th objection.

The 1.4-mile long Victorian structure between Bradford and Halifax has been at the centre of a long-running battle between campaigners, and custodian Highways England, over its future.

The Queensbury Tunnel Society is fighting to bring it back into public use as part of a greenway connecting the two districts.

Norah McWilliam, leader of the Queensbury Tunnel Society, said: “The response to the planning application has been overwhelming and unprecedented. Abandonment is costing a fortune and benefits nobody except a few officials in Whitehall and York.

“It’s about time Highways England withdrew its planning application and joined the movement to secure a positive future for Queensbury Tunnel, helping to repurpose it as an iconic landmark on the country’s active travel network. That’s the only way of seeing a return on the taxpayer’s investment.

“It’s a strategically valuable structure connecting two large urban centres - a reality which some in the Department for Transport are now waking up to.

"As we look to the future, it’s clear that the green transport revolution promoted by the Government will only prove viable if we make the most of our existing infrastructure assets. Queensbury Tunnel has to be saved.”

Last month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced £1m funding for a business case into a Bradford-Halifax Greenway incorporating the tunnel.

A Highways England spokesperson said: “We are continuing our work at Queensbury Tunnel, maintaining the safety of local communities and our workforce. The work we are undertaking is separate to the planning application which Bradford Council needs to determine.

“This work benefits any future plans to reopen the tunnel by keeping it safe now, and supports the Department for Transport and West Yorkshire Combined Authority as they look at options for the future use of the structure.

“The tunnel needs strengthening to prevent further collapse, and for the safety of residents living close to the top of Shaft 3 and our workforce. Preventing an uncontrolled collapse is the best option for keeping the tunnel viable for future use.”