Concerns raised over the felling of trees along Bure Valley Railway line
- Credit: Bure Valley Railway
A community has raised concerns that "habitats are being destroyed without any consideration for wildlife" along a Norfolk railway.
But the railway says it is only doing what is required by law to keep the line safe.
The Bure Valley Railway operates between Aylsham and Wroxham passing through the Bure Valley and surrounding countryside.
But people living along the line, the Broadland Tree Warden Network and conservationists have raised concerns about the way the railway is being managed, saying the clearance of vegetation is "excessive and insensitive to wildlife."
John Fleetwood, Broadland Tree Warden co-ordinator, has said he feels habitats are being "destroyed" and has raised a number of concerns about the clearance's effect on nesting birds, glow worms and mammals.
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Mr Fleetwood said: "With lockdown, I think many people’s appreciation of nature has increased, so it is just so upsetting to see a wild natural place being damaged like this.
"Of course, management is necessary, but it can be done with care for the species living there. This ‘neat and tidy’ approach is not fit for a world where biodiversity loss is increasing at an alarming rate.”
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Andrew Barnes, managing director of the BVR, said the railway had not been directly approached by the group concerned and had a responsibility to keep the railway's track, bank and cuttings safe.
He said: "We're actually a state-regulated railway and that means we're actually the same as Network Railway, we have pretty wide-ranging stationary powers and obligations."
He said a lot of what the BVR had cleared was bramble, thicket and bracken, which was being replaced with Norfolk grass and wildflowers. He also said trees were being removed because they had ash dieback, were too close to the tracks and crown work was being carried out to prevent leaves from falling on the line.
Mr Barnes said: "We have got to manage the embankments in a way that's safe for the railway."
A spokesperson for the Office of Rail and Road said while there were no specific railway safety legislative requirements around the management of trees but that railways were required to have safety management systems in place.
They said: "The extent to which vegetation is cut back is one for the railway to make, based on an analysis of its risks and other risk control measures in place."