David Burrowes statement on Network Rail Tree Removal
Removal of Trees and Woodland Beside Railway
I am extremely concerned about the wholesale destruction of trees and clearance of the woodland area along the railway from Green Dragon Lane through to Grange Park station and was concerned to see myself the devastation caused to the wonderful woodland area and wildlife habitat adjoining the railway embankment. Sadly this is not the first time Network Rail have carried out such works without proper notification and consultation with the local community. Residents in Winchmore Hill have already suffered similar tree losses and I understand Cuffley residents are in a similar position further up the line.
I have made repeated representations to both Network Rail and Transport Ministers, raising concern in particular about the lack of prior communication with the local community and myself to explain fully and clearly why the scale of works and tree removal is necessary. You may be aware that the Coalition Government are committed to reform Network Rail to ensure that it becomes more accountable to the public. The sooner this happens the better.
In the meantime I have been making urgent enquiries with Network Rail managers to try and get some clear answers about the reasons for the works and this is the information I obtained which comes from Network Rail's Senior Earthworks Engineer:
"The scheme is being undertaken due to reports from the Track Team of Poor Track Quality and examinations by the Earthworks Team confirming that it appears in Poor Condition. The site is regularly "Super Red" – meaning track line and level go off regularly and unexpectedly. This is not maintainable nor is it acceptable in terms of running a safe railway.
The earthworks scheme together with a track renewal (which has been undertaken this financial year) is required to correct the problem. The risk of not doing the work is of unexpected track movement / derailment. In order to combat this, the acceptable mitigations are either line closure or speed restrictions of 40mph or 5mph which would be unacceptable to the business and the general public.
There are two causes of the instability: -
a) The bank is made from clay which is susceptible to seasonal movement (it shrinks in summer and swells in winter). Meaning that cracks appear in it and allow water to penetrate making matters worse. This is made much worse by having huge deciduous trees on it which suck out huge quantities of water in the spring and summer and then shut down and drop leaves on it in the winter letting it get wet and keeping it wet.
b) Because of the shrinking the bank was made up over the years with ash. This often had coal and combustible material in it. The site was subject to bank fires in the 70's and 80's and the ash burned away. They dug it out leaving big holes in the bank and also burned patches, which turned to soggy mush when the fire went out, leaving big hole and soft patches in the bank.
What we now have to do is remove the big trees that are sucking the life out of the embankment and when we have done that remove the soft burned ash and topsoil and replace with compacted clean stone at a safe angle. The topsoil will then be replaced and standard grass seed (which contains wild flowers) will be sown".
I am still awaiting clarification about the extent of the works to establish whether it will be extended to the other side of Green Dragon Lane and also to clarify what Network Rail plan to do to mitigate the impact of the tree removal on local residents.
I know that constituents will have a number of further questions and I have arranged a public meeting to happen in the next two weeks. Further details will be posted on my website www.davidburrowes.com.
I am also meeting shortly with Network Rail managers in Parliament and will be sure to raise this issue, which is of great concern to many local residents, directly with them.
David Burrowes MP
Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate