Bid to control further tree lopping on the Abbey Line in St Albans

Abbotts Ave bridge side of the Abbey Line, after the trees were felled

Abbotts Ave bridge side of the Abbey Line, after the trees were felled - Credit: Photo supplied

Furious local residents and Network Rail executives have met in a bid to avoid any repeat of lopping row which left householders looking out over tree stumps along the Abbey Flyer.

In September Network Rail felled a number of trees along the Abbey Line in Sopwell even though residents had only been informed that the rail company was going to undertake vegetation management works.

Residents suffered an instant increase in noise and dust as well as light pollution and have become more concerned about privacy and security because of the lack of screening of their homes.

They have reported increased drug dealing to the police and have also seen a marked increase in fly tipping.

In addition, they also found that when the first heavy rainfall occurrred after the felling, there was a significant increase in rain run-off from the railway bank because it was so much more exposed.

All the points were raised by representatives of SAFER - Sopwell-Abbey Flyer Environment Rescue - at their meeting with Network Rail’s new chief executive Mark Carne and some of his senior management team at the home of one of the members.

County councillor Sandy Walkington and Connar McBain, parliamentary assistant to MP Anne Main, were also at the meeting.

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During the lengthy meeting SAFER expressed local residents’ concerns about the extent of the vegetation clearance and tree felling and the resulting concerns.

Network Rail acknowledged that the Abbey Flyer work had not been carried out in the best possible manner, particularly with regard to notice to local residents and consultation.

Mark Carne stressed that rail operations safety for both passengers and workers was of paramount importance and vegetation management was essential.

He outlined Network Rail’s work with the Tree Council to develop a policy and to create safe, pleasant, sustainable and manageable lineside environments for local residents.

He reassured SAFER members concerned aboout future landslips following the tree felling, that the trackside slopes were stable.

After the meeting, Karen Green of SAFER said “We have agreed an action plan with Network Rail and the Tree Council for when work along the Abbey Flyer line resumes at the end of November.

“Network Rail also took on board many of our suggestions regarding future consultation and approaches to its vegetation management policy and in the next few months we will be working closely with them to make sure these are implemented.”

Cllr Walkington added: “It was a fantastic achievement for the Cottonmill residents to get the boss of Network Rail in person at the meeting.

“It won’t repair the damage already done but here’s hoping that the next stage of tree-cutting on the stretch through Park Street and Bricket Wood will be handled more sensitively as a result.”