Fresh concern over tree felling during branch upgrade work

Trees have been cut back at Poulton
Trees have been cut back at Poulton
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Fresh concerns have been raised over the scale of tree clearance on the rail line between Blackpool and Preston.

The Gazette reported earlier this year how residents living near the line at Singleton were angry about Network Rail cutting down mature trees as part of its upgrade work.

And now Poulton residents are also questioning the company’s strategy which has seen dozens of lineside trees removed.

John Bailie, who has campaigned on several issues in the town, is worried the rail firm has gone too far.

He has contacted the Woodland Trust and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, who, he says, are ‘concerned’ over the work.

Mr Bailie said: “They are carrying out this work due to electrification work and have stated that an ecological survey has been carried out.

“I have asked for evidence of this survey but have heard nothing yet.

“How can the cutting of every branch to date, and the felling of every single tree, be justified?

“This is resulting in the total desecration of the lineside environment.

“I recognise the need to invest in our railways and that this will inevitably involve some trees being removed but it is the apparently haphazard desecration of pretty well every tree and shrub in sight that concerns me, and a number of other residents.”

Network Rail defended the work being carried out.

A spokesman said: “Lineside vegetation can obscure signals, get blown onto the tracks, interfere with overhead line equipment or grow to an extent where our staff do not have a safe place to wait while trains pass.

“Our scope of work on the Preston to Blackpool North line is to clear vegetation within six metres of the running rail (or to the boundary if less than six metres is available). We will also be removing problematic leaf fall species – for example Ash and Sycamore – and any trees on railway.

“Before work begins we undertake ecological surveys. Any protected species and nesting birds are identified so that methods of working such as exclusion zones can be put in place to ensure they are not harmed.”