No more leaves on line as Network Rail targets a mass tree clearance

NETWORK Rail is to undertake a mass tree and vegetation clearance along the Huddersfield to Manchester train line including the section that passes through Mossley and Saddleworth.

Vegetation by the line

The extensive project includes night time and weekend working.

Network Rail held a public consultation at the George Lawton Hall on Tuesday, August 29 and there is expected to be a future briefing.

But some residents believe they were left in the dark about the meeting which wasn’t advertised outside the building.

Network Rail say the work is needed for future of electrification of the line and to avoid delays caused by leaves on the line.

As a result, the vegetation culling will take place upto 6.5 metres (more than 21 feet) either side of the tracks except where property boundaries fall nearer than this.

Trees whose height is greater than their distance from the track or NR equipment will be removed. Trees and bushes with high leaf fall will also be removed.

Network Rail claim ecological surveys have already taken place to identify protected species and nesting birds and they intend to create new habitats for small animals and insects.

Vegetation by the line

All wild birds, eggs and nests are protected by law and the destruction of nests during the nesting season between March and August is generally considered to be a criminal act.

When similar work was undertaken in Kent, residents chained themselves to trees to prevent them being felled.

Environmentalists say removing trees from railway embankments across the country is the equivalent of destroying an area as large as the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

Network Rail has surveyed more than 10 million trees growing next to 20,000 miles of track in Britain.

And it now possesses a database called Offering Rail Better Information Service (ORBIS) helping engineers to target key areas.

The Mossley Correspondent attended the public consultation but was told to direct any questions to the Network Rail media office.

So we quote from some of their pop-up stands. NR states: “We understand that removing vegetation from either side of the track will reduce screening from the railway and that noise and night-time lighting during removal work will affect our line side neighbours.

“We have to make safety our first priority so we can’t completely avoid this. But we will make every effort to minimise disruption.

“We will notify you in advance of working in your area to let you know what work in planned near you.

“We will always tell you when we expect work to be noisy so we can keep services running.”

An RSPB spokesperson said: “We recommend cutting hedges and trees is avoided between March and August as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds.

“If weather conditions are favourable, some birds may nest outside of this season (and some species such as pigeons will nest all year round).

“At any time, it is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.

“We trust that Network Rail are aware of this and will do a thorough check for nests before work commences.”

For more information go online: or call 03457 114141.


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