David Burrowes statement on meeting with Network Rail
Network Rail "contrite and constructive" in meeting with MP
Having held a public meeting to hold Network Rail to account for the destruction of trees in Grange Park and previuosly in Winchmore Hill, David Burrowes MP yesterday met with the Chief Executive David Higgins and the Heads of Engineering and Communications.
In a full and frank meeting lasting 1 1/2 hours Network Rail acknowledged serious failures in communication and the extent of destruction of trees. Agreement has been reached for a replanting scheme which, subject to local residents approval, will involve a significant number of replacement trees. Network Rail also agreed to disclose environmental assessments and to fully engage local representatives and residents in the replanting scheme. An assurance was given that land development was not a reason for the works and there are no plans for future development.
A commitment was made for senior representatives of Network Rail to attend another public meeting in September to confirm the progress on the replanting scheme, account for their actions and lessons learnt from their failures and provide undertakings to the local community.
David Burrowes said "I was pleased to meet with the Chief Executive of Network Rail David Higgins and his senior managers who I would describe as being contrite and constructive. They recognised Network Rail's serious failings both in communication and substance.
In particular Network Rail agreed to be open and transparent about the reasons for their works, options that were considered to deal with their concerns about safety and operational efficiency and the disclosure of the environmental assessments. I have been assured that land development does not feature in any of the works or plans for the immediate area. I have been promised the release of all the relevant environmental assessments and surveys.
It was also agreed that there will be no budget restraint on the replanting scheme which will include a significant number of trees. I am pleased we have moved a long way from the initial response of a derisory greening of the embankment to a promise of new trees both at the toe of the embankment and at an intermediate level. Network Rail's past cavalier approach to the public and local environment has left Winchmore Hill and Grange Park previously wooded wildlife corridor looking like a disaster zone.
We now seem to have a new open and responsible approach from the new Chief Executive. I will keep a very close eye on progress in the coming months to agree the replanting scheme. The hope is that we can turn a disaster zone into a community led environmental project. I look forward to receiving a letter from Network Rail setting out the agreed actions from our meeting and the public meeting in September. I also hope to secure a debate in Parliament after Easter.
David Burrowes, MP