Anger at 'wholesale destruction' of trees beside railway line

Rev Dr Mike Bossingham at the railway line at Hall Road in Cromer, where a bank of trees near the li

Rev Dr Mike Bossingham at the railway line at Hall Road in Cromer, where a bank of trees near the line have been chopped down. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The felling of trees along a railway embankment in Cromer has been slammed by a resident who labelled the clearance "wholesale destruction".

The Rev Dr Mike Bossingham said he was shocked to see dozens of trees had been felled near the railway line between Hall Road and Roughton Road.

But Network Rail, which carried out the works, said managing trees and vegetation was important to keep passengers and track workers safe. 

Rev Dr Mike Bossingham at the railway line at Hall Road in Cromer, where a bank of trees near the li

Rev Dr Mike Bossingham at the railway line at Hall Road in Cromer, where a bank of trees near the line have been chopped down. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Dr Bossingham, who lives in Cromer, said: "I couldn't believe it when I saw it, I was quite shocked. At that stretch of the line it's really dramatic what they've done because it's a large embankment and it's been completely cleared. It has been done without any reference to local democracy - they've just wiped them out. I'm not aware of any tree planting they're doing elsewhere to compensate."

Dr Bossingham, who is also the deputy mayor of the town and secretary of the north Norfolk branch of the Green Party, said the felling sent the wrong message a time when people were being encouraged to do all they could to help the environment. 

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We’re very aware of the impact that removing trees and vegetation can have on local communities and we understand that this can come as a surprise for people who’ve got used to rows of trees or hedges near their homes or workplaces.

Rev Dr Mike Bossingham at the railway line at Hall Road in Cromer, where a bank of trees near the li

Rev Dr Mike Bossingham at the railway line at Hall Road in Cromer, where a bank of trees near the line have been chopped down. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"Trees and vegetation can obscure signals, touch live electrical equipment, blow or fall onto the tracks, undermine track foundations, or prevent our track staff having a safe place to wait while trains pass. This work also helps reduce leaves falling onto the line, which can affect train acceleration and braking, delaying trains during the autumn months and increasing the risk of an accident happening.”

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Dr Bossingham also questioned whether the felling should have gone on during nesting season, which runs from from February until August.

Natural England recommends vegetation works be done outside this time.

The bare bank at the railway line, Hall Road in Cromer, where trees near the line have been chopped

The bare bank at the railway line, Hall Road in Cromer, where trees near the line have been chopped down. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Network Rail said: "It’s not illegal to carry out vegetation management works during the nesting season, though we avoid doing so wherever possible to minimise our impact on wildlife. We only work during bird nesting season if it’s necessary and, when we do so, use appropriate control measures to protect birds. We’re continuing to carry out work on this line because of the safety risk the vegetation poses."

The bare bank at the railway line, Hall Road in Cromer, where trees near the line have been chopped

The bare bank at the railway line, Hall Road in Cromer, where trees near the line have been chopped down. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021


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