Network Rail faces tree cutting review

May 16 2018   | Region: Cymru Wales, East Midlands, East of England, London, North East & Cumbria, North West, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South East, South West, West Midlands, Yorkshire & the Humber

Network Rail faces tree cutting review
Government will review Network Rail’s tree cutting and vegetation management policies, Rail Minister Jo Johnson has announced in the wake of recent public outcry over the felling of line side trees.
 
The review will consider whether the company has the capacity and capability to manage vegetation in a way that minimises harm to wildlife, while ensuring the safety of the railways.
 
The Rail Minister has also asked Network Rail to suspend all tree cutting during the current bird nesting season – which ends in August – except where it is safety critical.
 
This comes after fellings carried out during April attracted the attention of campaigners and members of the public, prompting a petition which so far has almost 80,000 signatures.
 
The petition, set up by campaigner Ray Walton, expressed concerns about the impact on wildlife habitats of chopping down “thousands of trees across the country” and plans to cut down “millions more”.
 
Meanwhile, one national news source had reported that Network Rail was preparing an £800M five year programme of ‘enhanced clearance’ to remove more than a million ‘leaf fall’ trees from beside the railway during Control Period 6.
 
However a spokesman for Network Rail denied the claims made in the story. The spokesman welcomed the Government’s review and said: “We are constantly balancing the needs of the environment and its line side neighbours with the needs and safety of the 4.6M people who use and rely on our railway every day.
 
“Last year we recorded over 400 incidents of trains colliding with fallen trees and another 1000 where they caused delays to services, costing the industry over £100M.
 
“As a result, we have well thought out standards and policies in place that have been developed over many years with the help of experts that we believe strike the right balance and maintain a safe and biodiverse line side.”
 
Rail Minister Jo Johnson said: “It is right that Network Rail is able to remove trees that could be dangerous, or impact on the reliability of services. But I also understand that cutting back trees can alarm people who enjoy these environments – and can especially raise concerns over the effect on birds during nesting season.”
 
In launching its review, the Department for Transport has consulted with the Tree Council and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The review will report its findings to the Minister in the summer.
 
(Photo: Network Rail)

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