Campaigner glee as 560 trees saved from 'overzealous' railway works

Jodie

Jodie Satterley created campaign group Stop Network Rail’s Environmental Destruction in a bid to save the trees along the Romford to Upminster train line.  - Credit: Jodie Satterley

A campaign group is celebrating the news that only 40 trees will be removed alongside the Romford to Upminster train line - down from initial estimates of 600.  

Today (January 21) Network Rail’s route infrastructure engineer Mark Walker confirmed the number of trees requiring "some form of action, whether immediate or preventative" has been reviewed and cut back by 560 - nearly 95 per cent of that first planned - following community intervention. 

This follows a "miscommunication" which saw Network Rail contractors continue to prune and fell the vegetation after it had agreed to temporarily halt works to address backlash. It then issued a second promise to pause the operation for a week.

Mr Walker said the latest postponement was to "review the scope of any remaining work and how this could be communicated”.  

He added: “We’ve concluded that by removing around 40 dead, diseased or dangerous trees we can eliminate any imminent safety risks to the railway.  

“These trees are all in danger of falling onto the track or overhead lines, and work to remove them will start on January 31." 

Before and after

The smaller oak tree on the right was reduced to a tall tree stump as part of Network Rail's works. - Credit: Kate Seacombe

Creator of campaign group Stop Network Rail’s Environmental Destruction, Jodie Satterley, 32, from Romford, said: “If there will be 40 trees removed in the whole of Havering that would be a huge success.  

“The plans showed a complete clear of everything within 6.5m of the tracks, which is an extraordinary amount of vegetation and trees.”  

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A petition created by the campaign group on the issue now has more than 1,800 signatures so far.

Jodie added: “No one is ever suggesting that they [Network Rail] should leave a tree that is a danger, but I think we’ve seen enough around the country that they are taking a massively overzealous approach and interpret the use of their powers for safety incredibly liberally.” 

Mark said any further work would start in October this year “at the earliest”, adding that before further work begins, Network Rail will “engage local representatives and residents well in advance”.  

Jodi added: “To go from thousands to 600 to now 40, and allowing a proper period of review between now and October – that is a great success.”