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Lineside clearance team stopped by local protesters


Protesters stop rail tree-fellers in their tracks .Thursday, April 19, 2012 Whitstable Times.

TV scriptwriter Julie Wassmer of Cromwell Road, Whitstable, said: "We received leaflets on Sunday saying all trees along the backs of our homes were to be cut down. Everyone is up in arms over this.

?SAVE OUR TREES: Residents of Cromwell Road, Whitstable, are taking on Network Rail over trackside tree cutting
."There are swifts nesting in the branches. It is illegal to chop down trees with birds nesting in them. We have reported the contractors to the police."

Work was expected to start this week but contractors Capel Group hastily arranged a meeting with campaigners in Bissons car park on Tuesday morning.

Miss Wassmer said: "We met Nigel Summers, who seemed surprised at the reaction. I think he was expecting only one person. Instead, there were 20 of us with placards."

He has called a temporary halt to the programme.

In a letter to residents, Capel Group, from Tonbridge, said: "Trees draw excessive moisture out of the embankment and cause issues relating to track quality."

But Miss Wassmer said: "We understand the side of the track must be kept under control but chopping down all the trees seems a bit drastic.

"They say trees soak up moisture and cause slippage of embankments but we want to see the evidence for that. We are not taking it at face value. Roots strengthen the embankment, which is also a corridor for wildlife. The trees also protect our back gardens."

Mavis Choong for Network Rail said: "We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously.

"We always undertake an environmental impact study before carrying out work to ensure rare species are protected and will stagger work so it does not interfere with breeding seasons.

"However, trees can be dangerous if they fall onto tracks or obstruct train drivers' visibility."


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