Network Rail Tree Clearance Programme
The work was due to begin on Monday 16th April, but an aggressive campaign by residents forced the contractor to halt work temporarily. However, work continued on the opposite side of the track and further down the line and will recommence behind Cromwell Road sometime in August.
It seems they are ripping up trees along half the lines in England too. They are ripping up trees in Cheshire, in Bath, in Oxfordshire, in South Yorkshire, and in parts of London (see below for links). They are probably ripping up trees near to you even now. Network Rail's own consultants state that their clearance programme will "destroy an area the size of the Forest of Dean."
Something very strange is going on. According to the contractors, Capel Group, “Trees draw excessive moisture out of the embankment and cause issues relating to track quality.”
This is odd because that line, those trees and that embankment have been there for over a hundred years, and there’s never been any issues relating to track quality before. Residents were given less than 24 hours notification of the work and at a public meeting were only told why the work had to go ahead. There was no consultation, and no need, apparently for an Environmental Assessment to take place. The Public Works Act, under which Network Rail are operating, allows them to circumvent the normal processes of public consultation.
They are citing safety concerns as their excuse. How odd. I wonder how many people have been killed by falling rail side trees in the last hundred years? I would venture to suggest, very few, if any.
In some cases trees up to 100 ft from the line have been cleared.
Why do I hear the warning sound of cash tills going off in my head? As always it will have something to do with money.
This is the mark of how degenerate we have become as a civilisation. Railway lines are like wildlife corridors through the landscape. They are rich natural resources. They show that it is possible for nature and technology to live side by side. They mitigate the worst excesses of our age by allowing a place for nature to bloom and to thrive in the heart of our towns.
And now some unaccountable company thinks it’s ok to rip them up, to replace the infinite interdependency of nature with a dust-grey gravel desert for the sake of some measly blips on a computer screen.
Network Rail resides within a legal anomaly. It is a public company but it acts like a private company. It is publicly owned but not answerable to the public. Only the rail regulator has a say in its decisions. The company is in debt to the taxpayer to the tune of £24.5 billion, while its tree clearance programme is costing us £15 million per year.
The company states its commitments as:
- Protecting Natural Resources
- Exceeding the expectations of the public
- Being recognised as a good corporate citizen
- Improving the economic value of the existing railway
In reality, it seems, only the last of these commitments actually applies.
Anyone who has looked out at the scene on the high speed line to St. Pancras International will know what death looks like. It is a scene of concrete and gravel, with not a sign of a living thing from Ashford International to St Pancras, a distance of some 50 miles. That’s what the line behind Cromwell Road will look like soon, if Network Rail have their way. It’s what all the lines in England will look like.
And it’s a measure of the collective insanity of our age that this massacre is taking place during the nesting season, when Nature is at its most abundant, when the miracle of life is being unfolded, and the Mothers are nurturing their young.
Every creature has a heart. Every nest is a home. Every tree is a world. The pulse of the earth is your own heartbeat.
The worship of money is the worship of death. Let us stand up for life and put ourselves in the way of the devastation.
Sign the petition
- Network Rail's tree and vegetation clearance policy. - e-petitions
The Government must bring Network Rail to account on its policy of lineside tree and vegetation clearance. Network Rail must agree to begin a proper process of public consultation, considering all scientific evidence, being transparent about and rele
90 York Way
Switchboard: 020 7557 8000
Capel Group Ltd
141-143 SOUTH ROAD
The links below show the extent of Network Rail's tree clearance programme throughout the UK
- Miles Kington: Whos afraid of a few leaves on the line anyway? - Miles Kington - Columnists - The In
"When we manage the plants, trees and animals on our land, we do so to keep the railway safe and balance this work with our environmental obligations."
- Tree Management (Network Rail) (Hansard, 3 June 2003)
Destroying an area of trees the size of the forest of Dean.
- BBC News - Grange Park railway trees cut by Network Rail
Network Rail is criticised by a council, an MP and residents for removing hundreds of metres of mature woodland from a railway embankment in north London.
- Residents unhappy at Network Rails plans to uproot trees in Wirral - Liverpool Local News - News - L
FURIOUS residents are trying to halt a train companys plans to tear out the trees behind their homes.
- Brockley Central: Residents campaign against tree clearance along West Brockley railway line | The o
- ActonBridge.Org Network Rail Tree Felling Page
- Villagers rail against train line tree-cutting - Solihull News
UPSET residents have slammed rail bosses decision to clear trees and greenery along the train line in Hampton-in-Arden.
- Bathampton activists lose tree-felling fight with Network Rail | Environment | guardian.co.uk
Protestors near Bath are likely to lose a battle to stop contractors clear-cutting trees
- Chainsaw rebels' station tree protest
Neighbours living near a railway line confronted contractors hacking down scores of trees overlooking their gardens.
- Trees ‘massacred’ in Network Rail clean up - News - The Comet
A RAILWAY line and residents’ gardens have been left exposed, after dozens of trees were “massacred” without any warning.
- Network Rail cuts down trees to prevent leaves on the line - Telegraph
- BBC News - Barnsley railway tree removal blights trackside homes
The removal of hundreds of trees from the side of a railway line in Barnsley devalues local properties, residents say.
- Dronfield Civic Society NWRail