St Albans residents speak out about tree felling at the station

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 June 2018

The now-felled trees in Ridgmont Road. Picture: Keith Webster

The now-felled trees in Ridgmont Road. Picture: Keith Webster


Neighbours are outraged that trees in a conservation area by St Albans station have been felled without warning.

A group of about seven trees, on a piece of green by the Ridgmont Road entrance to the station, have been cut down by Network Rail.

They were removed on Monday to make way for a space where rail employees can safely wait while trains pass.

Ridgmont Road resident Keith Webster sarcastically commented: “It looks like Network Rail have ‘improved’ the conservation area around St Albans City Station by removing the nasty trees in Ridgmont Road.”

He added: “Although perhaps if you can’t plan a timetable, I don’t suppose you can plan to put Tarmac around a few trees.”

Margaret Thirlway, who cycles past the trees on her way to work, said: “I’m concerned because this is actually a valued green space for both local residents and commuters and a small haven for wildflowers and insect life.

“I feel quite cross about it actually, I will be even more upset if it stops being a green space.

“I seems like a shame and like it has crept past without anyone noticing.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said the company balances environmental needs with safety considerations: “Last year we recorded over 400 incidents of trains colliding with fallen trees and another 1,000 where they caused delays to services, costing the industry at least £100m.

“As a result, we have well thought out standards and policies in place that have been developed over many years with the help of experts that we believe strike the right balance and maintains a safe and biodiverse line side. We continue to work on our vegetation management programme in St Albans.”

She described the work as critical to safety: “We are also working to cut back trees or shrubs which are overgrown and, if left, could cover up signals along the route.”

Head of planning for St Albans district council, Tracy Harvey, said they had received a complaint: “Our enforcement team is investigating to see if there have been any breaches of planning regulations.”

A separate planning application to transform both entrances to St Albans City Station has been deemed invalid because one of the drawings was incorrect. Network Rail are looking to resubmit it as soon as possible.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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