The future of the South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society project looks to have been secured, after local MP Rory Stewart, and patron of the STRPS group, Lord Inglewood, met with the Secretary of State, Elizabeth Truss, to ask that Defra review the way in which state-aid rules have so far been applied to the project. The Secretary of State agreed that the charitable aims and objectives of STRPS should not be subject to state-aid rules and confirmed Defra would revise its stance on the matter, so as to allow the group to again raise funds from public sector grant-awarding organisations.

The STRPS group has already successfully raised over £5 million to fund a self-supporting community railway that will eventually serve Haltwhistle, South Tynedale, Alston Moor and the wider North Pennines region. The creation of a seasonal heritage steam railway would hope to attract substantial numbers of visitors to the area, in a major boost to the local economy, as well as providing an important form of public transport for one of the most isolated and rural areas in Britain.

Speaking after the meeting with the Secretary of State, Rory Stewart said:

“The South Tynedale Railway group have invested an incredible amount of time and energy into a project which offers real scope and potential for the local area and its economy. Confusion over state-aid rules threatened the viability of the whole scheme, and it is fantastic news for everyone involved that the Secretary of State has revised Defra’s stance on this issue. Local volunteers can again turn their attention back to making this fantastic project a reality, and I remain keen to offer them any further support I can.”

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