‘Brutal’ tree felling sparks MP debate

NDET 2-7-12 BWJ 5 Dronfield Station Trees Felled Complaint. L-R, David Ingham, John Fletcher, Ian Ward.
NDET 2-7-12 BWJ 5 Dronfield Station Trees Felled Complaint. L-R, David Ingham, John Fletcher, Ian Ward.

Campaigners protesting against tree felling at a railway station have helped spark a major debate in parliament.

Network Rail came under fire from MPs sitting in Westminster Hall last week – after civic chiefs raised concerns about their “brutal”vegetation clearing along rail embankments at Dronfield Station.

Dronfield Civic Society said residents were not properly consulted and the work had spoiled a conservation area.

The society was then contacted by groups and environmentalists from across the country claiming Network Rail had removed trees from hundreds of miles of its tracks.

During the parliamentary debate Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn led calls for the transport minister to make sure the firm consults properly on felling plans in the future.

John Fletcher, of the Civic Society said: “We felt at the time when this happened in Dronfield that this was not just a local issue and it was happening in other parts of the country.

“All residents got was a notification that they were going to do some vegetation clearing but it was much more brutal and great swathes of trees were chopped down, in a conservation area.”

The company cut back vegetation up to 90ft from the track without properly informing residents about the scale of the work, he said.

He added: “It’s not right that Network Rail can come in and just change the whole townscape.”

Network Rail said cutting down trees ensured safety.

A spokesman added: “Whilst we recognise that the removal of vegetation is an emotive subject all correct procedures were followed at Dronfield

“The work is required to make sure that train drivers can see signals properly, to protect against leaf fall issues in the autumn which, although it is joked about, is a very serious issue and to make sure our engineers can have safe access to the line.”