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Solihull MP Caroline Spelman finally gets assurances on felled trees at railway line

Rail bosses have agreed to take steps to rectify the loss of 100 trees that were torn down from the edge of a Hampton-in-Arden railway line back in December 2011

Caroline Spelman
Caroline Spelman

Rail bosses have agreed to take steps to rectify the loss of 100 trees that were torn down from the edge of a Hampton-in-Arden railway line back in December 2011.

Meriden MP Caroline Spelman stepped in after she was bombarded by complaints from local residents about the tree felling along the embankment, near the village railway station.

Speaking to the Solihull News last January, local resident Geoff Arthur said he was furious that great swathes of greenery had been hacked down, leaving virtually nothing left.

At the time rail chiefs said the trees were being cleared for “safety reasons” - because of fears about leaves falling on the lines - and admitted they were unlikely to be replaced.

But now the chief executive of Network Rail, David Higgins, has confirmed the company will be carrying out a tree survey of the site and has made a promise that only trees that are damaged or cause a safety threat to the railway will be removed in future.

In a letter to the MP, Mr Higgins apologised for the amount of time it has taken to investigate the concerns.

He added: “We have completed an initial review of the area and are pleased to advise that we will commence a full tree survey during the spring when the vegetation comes back into growth.

“We will also review the options for selective replanting at this site and, should it be deemed possible, will make sure that the chosen species are native to the area and will not cause leaf fall problems which can adversely affect train services.”

Mrs Spelman added: “Of course, it is vital that our railways are kept safe and obstructions and leaves on the line do cause delays.

“But I felt that Network Rail were using this as an excuse to destroy the mature vegetation on Station Road indiscriminately.

“I went to see the damage for myself and it really did change the character of the area.”

 

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