Trolleybus route woes for Leeds horse lover

Lorraine Nelis pictured at her stables at Oakfield, Headingley Lane, Leeds, with her horses.
Lorraine Nelis pictured at her stables at Oakfield, Headingley Lane, Leeds, with her horses.
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An animal lover fears she may have to put down her five horses if Leeds’s proposed £250m trolleybus route gets the go-ahead.

Lorraine Nelis, who leases stables from private landowners, off Headingley Lane, in Headingley, has hit out at the plans, which would see the electric commuter bus run straight through the grazing land she cares for five rescued horses on.

The adult social care worker, who lives in Headingley, claims the cost of stabling the horses in livery would cost her thousands of pounds every month – something she simply can’t afford.

It is hoped the trolleybus scheme, to be delivered by New Generation Transport (NGT), will cut congestion in Leeds, initially providing a nine-mile route linking the city centre with Holt Park in the north and Stourton in the south.

Lorraine, 51, told the YEP: “The horses may have to be put down. To stable a horse in livery is up to £300 a month, so that per capita times five is just not possible.”

The scheme, to which the Government will contribute just over £173m, with the council and Metro footing the other £57m, has been the subject of a number of engagement events across Leeds in recent months.

NGT is expected to apply for a Transport & Works Act Order this year, following which a public inquiry is likely to take place in 2014. If the scheme gets through that, construction could start in 2016/17.

Branding the trolleybus scheme a “dodo”, Lorraine added: “It breaks my heart, I have already had two more horses offered to me.

“I think it’s awful. Even if I didn’t have horses there, just the thought of it – it’s awful.”

Concerns have also been voiced over the impact that part of the proposed route could have on nearby Woodhouse Moor, with an alternative route proposed by NGT that avoids the moor favoured by local groups as “the lesser of two evils”.

Bill McKinnon, chair of the Friends of Woodhouse Moor, said: “I think it’s crazy to have a scheme like this running through Headingley and along that road from the city centre to Hyde Park.”

He said the authorities should look to improve local rail services or invest in hybrid buses to ease congestion and the city’s carbon footprint instead.

But even the alternative route, which avoids Woodhouse Moor, would still impact on Lorraine’s land.

A Metro spokesman said: “A further programme of engagement events along the route is currently being planned and we will publicise the details of those events once finalised.”