Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Whitstable - Network Rail confirms details of replanting scheme.

Network Rail returned to the Cromwell Road embankment last Friday (18th January), not to cut down trees, but to decide where to plant new ones. Following a 7 month long campaign by local residents, during which Network Rail contractors were driven off the Cromwell Road embankment by a protest of over 250 local people, limited felling took place on November 11th.

The work was monitored by two local councillors with specialist knowledge of trees: Harbour ward councillor, Phil Cartwright and Gorrell ward councillor Ashley Clark.
Both councillors recently visited Cromwell Road residents to gauge opinions on a replanting scheme that has been offered by Network Rail and Cllr Clark attended a site meeting with John Burrows, (Maintenance Manager at Network Rail) to take the plan forward. He said:-

"I had an excellent meeting with John Burrows from Network Rail on Friday and I am pleased to report that he has shown good faith by agreeing to plant between 60 and 80 trees in the gaps along the embankment. These trees will be rowans, field maples, hazels and some yew all of which have a high wildlife value, indeed while we were surveying the bank in broad daylight we came across a large fox. All this goes to prove that in the final analysis that "jaw, jaw is better than war, war". If people can sit down quietly and work their way through issues it can save time, money and needless anxiety. In circumstances such as these all of us can learn. The model agreement we achieved here appears to have worked well for people, for wildlife and rail safety and I would hope that Network Rail apply it elsewhere with harmony being the ultimate goal.
I would ask that when we get to the warmer weather residents direct any spare grey water to the young trees as this is vital to get them established in the key first year."

Local Cromwell Road resident and writer, Julie Wassmer, who led the campaign against Network Rail and went with Canterbury councillor James Flanagan to a meeting in September with Transport Minister, Norman Baker MP, said, "I am very pleased that the promise of replanting is being honoured by Network Rail. It's recently been estimated that there are currently 1,000 starlings roosting in the embankment trees near to Bisson's car park, where the massive local protest was staged last May. Now, 8 months on, people are coming from all over to watch the incredible aerobatic displays put on by the starlings just before dusk. All we ever sought from Network Rail was dialogue, sensitive tree management and a proper observance of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which prohibits the disturbance of nesting birds and fledglings in the breeding season. 3 of us had to chain ourselves to a tree to stop the chainsaws in May but when the replanting takes place next month, I would be happy to go along and shake Mr Burrows' hand.”