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Network Rail have written to people living adjacent to the railway line in Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill to notify them that work to create a vegetation-free strip of land on either side of the line will start on 9th February and continue until 20th March.

The work will involve clearing trees and other vegetation on both sides of the track so that there are no branches within 3.5 metres of the railway overhead power lines. This is to make a strip of between 6 and 7 metres wide for the safe passage of trains to run within.  Also to be removed are plants that "have leaves that settle on the stretches of line during autumn and cause particular problems where trains begin to brake or are pulling away from stations", plus "any trees that have been recognized as likely to be a danger to our neighbours, as well as to the travelling passengers".

The letter will undoubtedly raise concerns that Network Rail will remove far more trees and vegetation than is actually required for operational and safety reasons, causing both ecological and visual damage.  This is because of the drastic tree removal work that was carried out in the Grange Park area in 2011, which resulted in fierce protests - Network Rail were eventually pressured into planting new trees along this stretch.

Full text of the letter from  Network Rail

 

Dear Neighbour,

Managing Trees and other Vegetation between Winchmore Hill and Palmers Green

Because of the threat to the safety of the railway, Network Rail needs to remove trees and other vegetation near your property.

Recent incidents on this line have included trees falling on to the overhead power lines, stopping all trains from running, and trains finding difficulty in starting and stopping at stations because of leaves that drop on the track.

Growth during the summer has also hidden signals and filled areas used by staff to wait safely whilst trains pass. This letter explains some of what we will be doing, when it Mill happen and why it is necessary.

Your Member of Parliament, David Burrowes, has also had details of the work that we plan to carry out.

Between the Dates of 9th February and 20th March 2015

Between the hours of 08.00 — 16.00 (mostly Monday to Friday)

We will be clearing trees and other vegetation on both sides of the track so that there are no branches within 3.5 metres of the railway overhead power lines. This is to make a strip of between 6 and 7 metres wide for the safe passage of trains to run within.

Some plants have leaves that settle on the stretches of line during autumn and cause particular problems where trains begin to brake or are pulling away from stations, so we will also be taking these out.

This work is specific to the safety of trains but we shall also be removing any trees that have been recognized as likely to be a danger to our neighbours, as well as to the travelling passengers. These trees have been identified for us by an independent Tree Assessor.

A copy of the report has already been given to the Enfield Borough Council Tree Officer.

The Hertford line is a very important line. If there are problems on the main line, it is used as the chief route north. To ensure that the normal timetable on this line can continue safely and efficiently, we must do this work. It is due to start in February when birds will not have started nesting. Before then, an independent ecological survey will be carried out to identify any protected species that may be present.

Doing this will mean that the right measures can be taken if anything is identified.

We will also have an ecologist on site during the work in case any species are found after work has started. Although no planning application is required, we have notified Enfield Borough Council and will meet their representatives before work starts.

To do the work, we will be using both manual and mechanical equipment, including chainsaws and chipping machines. Logs and branches will be left to create a habitat for wildlife; chipped and spread evenly; or removed from site. What we do will depend on the accessibility and available space at each location.

Work will normally take place during daylight hours; but where safety and operational restrictions apply, limited night works shall be undertaken and we will make every effort to keep noise to a minimum. Our staff will be briefed on the importance we attach to working responsibly in the local community and expected to meet high standards of behaviour.

For the safety of our passengers and employees, we have no option but to take action on this line to reduce risks to the safe, reliable running of the railway.

We do understand that removing trees and other vegetation can come as something of a shock for people who have become accustomed to lines of trees or hedges near their homes or workplaces. We aim to only take out that which may be the cause of problems.

I hope this information is helpful. We apologise for any inconvenience these essential works may cause. However, if you have any additional questions or concerns, please visit www.networkrail.co.uk/contactus or telephone our 24-Hour National Helpline on 08457 11 41 41.

Denise Thompson,
Community Relations Manager

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Colin Younger's Avatar
Colin Younger posted a reply #836 24 Jan 2015 22:14
Anyone concerned about the prospect of wholesale denuding of the railway embankment might like to raise this with David Burrowes, who has a track record (no pun intended) of putting pressure on Network Rail after previous heavy handed tree felling at Grange Park
Kerry McKinnon's Avatar
Kerry McKinnon posted a reply #849 29 Jan 2015 13:33
It's devastating to think that 60 established trees supporting wildlife will be felled.

I have written to David, and we will continue to contact anyone that may be able to help.
We've seen the report that identifies all the trees to be felled, it's pure laziness on their part, to fell rather than manage the vegetation.

I've seen that in 2011 Network Rail were pressured to plant trees in Grange park after a brutal attack on trees on railway sidings

Any other ideas on people to contact, or procedure of challenging their decision, would be very much appreciated.

.
Colin Younger's Avatar
Colin Younger posted a reply #850 29 Jan 2015 16:59
Kerry,

Can you post the detailed report which you mention? I'm sure that others woulkd like to see what is being proposed.
Colin
Matthew McKinnon's Avatar
Matthew McKinnon posted a reply #851 29 Jan 2015 19:44
Hello, Colin,

You can download Network Rail's plan for these works, and also a report on the Council hearing on earlier works from the attachments here, or from this link -

www.hightail.com/download/UlRReFlkbTg0b0RxYk1UQw

Regards,
Matthew

Thanks, Matthew. Very useful information. I've changed the title of your comment to draw attention to its content. Basil (webmaster)
Colin Younger's Avatar
Colin Younger posted a reply #1009 27 Feb 2015 17:39
Well, now that we have seen the complete removal of anything above ankle height along the embankment I wonder why Network Rail don't just be honest and say that they will be embarking on a scorched earth policy? All the expert advice is it seems just a sop with no effect on the chainsaw teams. The images of the embankment in their report are an unnecessary feature - what's the point?

I particularly appreciate their stated desire not to work when birds are nesting.They've certainly solved that problem - there will no longer be anywhere for birds to nest, or for anything above an earthworm to live.

Great stuff Network Rail!