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Keep our Green Corridors

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22 April 2009
Keep our Green Corridors Urgent lobbying of Network Rail has been the order of the day today when I discovered that trackside vegetation works were underway on the railway line between Lewisham and Blackheath (many of the properties on Granville Park, Cressingham Road and St Josephs Vale back onto this section of track).

We’ve had a problem recently in another part of the borough, where Network Rail have adopted a slash and burn approach to managing vegetation and I wanted to make sure that we weren’t going to have the same experience on this stretch of track.

Below is a copy of the letter I sent to the Chief Executive of Network Rail, Iain Coucher:

Dear Mr Coucher

Vegetation removal between Lewisham and Blackheath

I write with regard to the proposed clearance of trackside vegetation in the borough of Lewisham.

The council was informed yesterday of Network Rail’s intention to start work on the clearance of all trees and vegetation which fall within 5m of a long section of track between Lewisham and Blackheath stations.

This section of track lies within one of the borough’s most valued conservation areas and there are a large number of mature trees which provide both a visual screen to the railway and some degree of noise protection for residents adjacent to the line. In an urban area like Lewisham, the rail corridors also fulfil a very important ecological function.

I am aware of work that has been undertaken in recent months on the rail corridor between Brockley. A “sensitive and selective” exercise was promised by Network Rail but complete devastation of the wildlife habitat transpired. I am writing to you today to seek your urgent assurance that this won’t happen on the line between Lewisham and Blackheath.

I fully understand Network Rail’s need to ensure safety on the line, but just as your organisation seeks to protect its historic buildings, I would hope that you would apply the same principles to the treatment of our natural heritage.

I look forward to hearing from you and would like to be able to share your response with other interested parties.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor of Lewisham and Cabinet Member for Regeneration

UPDATE June 2009

After much chasing, this is the response I received – Network Rail clearly adopted a very different approach to this section of line, which is good news:

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