A WALKING charity is set to challenge the “unacceptable” closures of a series of level crossings which it fears could put ramblers in danger.

The Ramblers, the country’s most prominent walkers’ rights organisation, has announced it will oppose 33 of Network Rail’s proposed closures, out of a total list of 60 across Essex.

Among the eight closures in the Braintree district which are being opposed are Potters Crossing in Rivenhall and Cranes No 1 in Cressing.

Volunteers will also fight the closure of the White Notley and Cressing Crossing, the Snivellers Crossing in Kelvedon and the Barbara Close one in Feering.

They also want to see Thornfield Wood Crossing in Wakes Colne and Golden Square Crossing between Mount Bures and Wakes Colne stay open. The Bures crossing is at risk too.

Tompion Platt, Ramblers’ director of advocacy and engagement, said: “Some of these proposals are fair and provide convenient diversions to bridges and other crossing points.

“However, the alternative routes provided for half the proposed closures are unacceptable, with the worst diversions taking walkers on to roads without pavements.

“Another of our key concerns is the proposal to push these diversions through en masse, which makes it difficult for organisations like the Ramblers to voice their concerns comprehensively.”

Network rail drew up a shortlist of more than 100 potential closures across East Anglia in summer 2016.

A consultation into the plans opened the follow year, with the Ramblers helping get 22 spots removed from the list.

However the inquiry has now reopened to discuss another 60 proposed changes.

Mr Platt added: “Taking away the tranquillity of an off-road rural walk and replacing it with traffic noise and fumes is bad enough, but being forced onto a main road on a diversion and passing vehicles going at 50 or 60 miles an hour is frightening.

“In an age where the Government recognises the value of encouraging walking because of its benefits for health, the environment, and the economy, it is right that we oppose these proposals that adversely alter walking routes.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “The Essex inquiry into level crossing closures is on-going and we are putting our case forward.

“We can’t say anything further while the inquiry is underway.”

The public inquiry will be at the Holiday Inn Hotel, in Eight Ash Green, from October 23 to 26.

For more information about the charity’s campaign, visit www.ramblers.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/network-rail.