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Residents shocked by dramatic tree cutting along Marlow-Maidenhead railway line

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Concerns have been raised after trees and vegetation around the railway tracks was removed by Network Rail – sparking fears it may be detrimental to wildlife.

Two weeks ago, residents in Lyndhurst Avenue, Cookham Rise, received a letter from Network Rail Community Relations, saying it needed to prune and ‘where absolutely necessary’ remove vegetation within four metres of the track edge.

Resident Barbara Brown contacted Network Rail Community Relations about her concerns regarding the effects of this, as the areas around the railway embankments have ‘always been a haven for wildlife’.

She was reassured that this would mean just cutting a few branches off and some strimming where necessary.

However, when the workers arrived last week, they began an ‘almost complete removal’ of a poplar tree, according to Barbara.

“It’s not recognisable as a poplar now,” said Barbara. “They’ve done pruning in the area before, but nothing like this. It’s really over the top.

“The trees have been here all my life and now there’s nowhere for the birds to go. The area has always been a safe space for wildlife. It’s just bleak now.”

This was not the only operation that raised concerns. Sarah Lloyd-Parry of Maidenhead Road also noticed that some large trees were being cut down outside her house.

Network Rail rang Sarah to say they had cut vegetation from as far back as eight metres – more than what Network Rail suggested to be the maximum safe distance between trees and the track.

“[The trees] are full of birds the whole time, and I have lived here nearly 30 years,” said Sarah. “We are supposed to be looking after our climate.

Sarah has since reached out to councillor Mandy Brar (Lib Dem, Bisham and Cookham), who was also not aware of trees being felled. Cllr Brar in turn has approached the Royal Borough tree team to check.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are currently undertaking essential vegetation maintenance work alongside the railway between Maidenhead and Marlow, which will be ongoing until March 2021.

“The safety of the public, passengers and our staff is our number one priority and managing the vegetation next to the railway is vitally important in ensuring trains continue running safely and on time.

“This work follows a detailed survey to find out where the greatest risks are posed. We also carry out assessments of the environment and any impact our work may have.

“We thank our lineside neighbours for their patience and understanding.”

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