Residents along rail line furious with ‘horrendous’ chainsaws used to cut trees
By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter
Residents have described tree pruning along a nearby railway line as “extreme”, with the constant noise of chainsaws being “horrendous”.
Matthew Shipp, 41, moved into his house in Hayes, Bromley with his family three and a half years ago.
The resident said that from two weeks ago, he noticed trees from his and his neighbour’s gardens being cut down along the Hayes rail line.
Mr Shipp soon found out the works were being carried out by Network Rail, which he described as a “big scouring of the earth”.
Mr Shipp said: “It seems excessive… They say it’s for the safe running of the railway, but a lot of these trees like the oak [at the end of my garden] have been there for 50 years.
“The railway can’t have been unsafe for 50 years, or at least for the past 10 or 20 when it’s been that big.”
The Hayes resident said that many of his neighbours had gotten a “blank” response from Network Rail when they raised the issue.
He said that despite other residents saying they were told the works were being carried out for health and safety reasons, he does not remember being informed about the pruning beforehand.
Mr Shipp said he agreed that trees and shrubs along the rail line needed maintenance, but felt the degree of pruning done by Network Rail has been “severe”.
He also said that the decreased number of trees at the end of his garden has increased the visibility of his home from the train line.
Mr Shipp said: “With the big trees and stuff, it just reduces that a little bit. I don’t expect that my back garden is a completely private area. I have neighbours who can see in, I have a railway at the bottom. I expect people to look, but you kind of hope that they’re going to be looking in between the trees rather than straight in the eye.”
James Tinker, 43, is a resident of Elmers End who also lives along the Hayes train line.
He said: “The argument from Bromley council is that it’s a health and safety issue so Network Rail can do what they want… Why now?
“These trees have been here for 100 years, some back to Victorian times probably. I think most people think it’s just a cost-cutting measure so they don’t have to maintain the trees.”
Joanna Smith, 39, said that while she feels safety should be a priority, the sound from the works has been “horrendous”.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “This is a significant piece of work including the removal of a number of trees protected by tree preservation orders which currently pose a risk to the railway, so we have been working closely with Bromley council who support this work.
“A detailed ecological survey is always completed, and all relevant steps are being taken to safeguard any wildlife in the area.”
The spokesperson said a letter had been sent before the start of the work to all properties along the railway line.
Bromley council was approached for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.
Pictured top: Matthew Shipp, 41, with his son Jacob, 2, in front of the oak tree in their garden in Hayes and a before and after photo of the oak tree at the end of Matthew Shipp’s garden (Picture: Joe Coughlan, Matthew Shipp)
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