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Friday, 15 May 2020

Tree cutting alongside the District Line commenced last week near Wimbledon Park

However, people living in nearby Melrose Avenue have written to TfL demanding to know why so much woodland has been removed.

They also complained that they weren’t told the works would be taking place beforehand.

Transport for London has replied, saying that the work is essential, and if any trees can be preserved, they will be.

Duncan Weir, Head of Track for London Underground, said: “We only cut back trees on the Underground network where there is no alternative to doing so. The trees near Wimbledon Park have begun to grow over a signal and cause a debris risk along the line, which means they have to be cut back for safety reasons. We will do all we can to minimise the impact of the tree removal on local residents and ensure all work is carried out responsibly.”

TfL says the trees will be cut back gradually in the coming months to reduce the impact on the local residents that a one-time removal might have

TfL says it is also ensuring that the trees are cut properly to reduce the possibility that they will fall on to residents’ property during extreme weather or due to rot. That means that some of the work may take place away from the railway.

The smaller pieces that are cut from the trees will be scattered along walkways and banks to help prevent weeds and to biodegrade, helping local ecosystems.

Residents living in Melrose Avenue have issued the following reply to TFL.

"Over recent months the railway banks, an area of documented significant biodiversity, replete with native trees, bird nests, fox covens, have been subjected to severe cut backs of the trees and undergrowth by TFL (in our experience by very aggressive men with chain saws), depleting the tree coverage and wildlife habitat, causing environmental damage as well as creating significant noise and light pollution and impacting resident wellbeing through the loss of green. We’ve put up with these cut backs, approaching the chain saw-ers politely to ask about their plans with the hope of mitigating biodiversity risk, because they have been within 3 metres of the train line, yet you only need to look at the devastation around Southfields and Wimbledon Park to see our concern.

Your plans to “adamantly” continue with tree cutting without connecting with the communities in which you impact is concerning, especially with this move having the potential to affect the living conditions and mental well-being of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. I appreciate you are able to do this under the guise of safety but the TfL-community partnership contract is important.

Can you assure us that this work will be undertaken to the minimal viable level and within TfL’s green infrastructure commitments, which has been widely publicised and documented? This loss of habitat has a precedent which needs not to be repeated, as documented and published by the London Assembly, 2012, Along the right lines.

This is a highly emotive issue and when planning these works, I guess, we residents are faceless numbers on spreadsheets, if considered at all. You will likely receive a significant amount of correspondence from residents who wish to ensure that this cutting is very sensitively handled and environmentally monitored as our past experiences, documented by residents over the past 40 years and all over us over the past 6 months, have pointed to the country. Only in February and may of this year, your chainsaw happy contractors smoked and littered as they went and taunted residents about their plans.

The opposition statements that you will receive will also highlight the human stories; from the family with a 13 year old autistic son whose condition is managed by the “enchanted forest” in the back garden, through to the elderly residents who remember the “worst days of their lives” when the trees were removed and have lived on Melrose Avenue for 20 years seeing their slow grow back.
You’ll also hear from the residents who enjoy the bird song and question why this would happen during nesting season?

I await your urgent confirmation that the community of Wimbledon Park will be notified as to the dates of any works and request that they will be extremely sensitively managed in the presence of supervisors from relevant environmental bodies, who are equally watching this with concern."
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 1:47 pm  

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