Kensal Green residents accuse Network Rail of “deforestation”
PUBLISHED: 11:19 11 August 2016 | UPDATED: 11:19 11 August 2016
Residents in Kensal Green have slammed rail chiefs for “deforesting” Brent because of falling leaves on tracks.
Network Rail held a last minute information event at St Martin’s Church in Mortimer Road, to tell residents it is cutting back all trees and bushes along a three mile track from Harlesden to Kilburn High Road and not replacing them.
The work, which began this week and due to end in November, has severely upset residents whose gardens back on to railway boundary where Network Rail wish to clear a six metre strip from the outer running rail.
Tracy Brent, who lives in Wakeman Road, will lose the Sycamore tree just the other side of her garden’s boundary fence. She said: “I’m devastated. Three miles is a lot of greenery. Network Rail is showing no regard for privacy and wildlife. They just don’t want to spend money clearing up the leaves so we’ll all end up living in sterile places. It’s Kensal deforestation.”
Residents have raised fears about subsidence issues if trees are removed and the threat to rare birds who nest in them.
Dave Hallbery, who attended the event, said: “This was not a consultation, we were told what they were going to do at the event when hardly any of the affected residents were around, they are on holiday. “This is a purely cost-cutting exercise, it’s cheaper to hack them down than to prune them.”
He added: “The trees are a very important part of where we live, providing a natural view, a blanket for the sound, hiding the railway infrastructure, and generally improving the area - there must be a better way of doing this.
Network Rail denied there was no consultation saying they had advertised the event.
Josh Scott, arbarist for Network Rail, said leaf fall was a “top priority” which could pose an “immense danger” as leaves can hamper train acceleration and braking.
He added: “If there is some way of compromising we will go out to residents and talk to them.”
A spokesman for Network Rail added: “We appreciate that trees and plants on our property shield our neighbours from the railway and provide refuges for birds and animals however ecological assessments take place prior to vegetation works starting.
“It is a delicate balance of our obligations to keep passengers safe and our responsibilities to our neighbours and the wildlife living trackside.”