Update on Whitstable's battle to prevent Network Rail destruction of another wildlife corridor (17.5.12)
This is the situation right now as far as local people in Whitstable are concerned: literally hundreds of residents are incensed that Network Rail is still planning to go ahead on 28th May with the tree felling operations on the Cromwell Road embankment - during the bird breeding season - and when the company has been advised by all the relevant wildlife agencies not to do so. There is a high risk that breeding birds, their eggs and nests will be disturbed/destroyed/damaged in this operation, the police are standing by, the RSPB is standing by, and local people are standing by. Forget the cursory nest studies done by their contractor, we have done our own, and Network Rail should be made very aware of that.
The company can be sensible and postpone these works until, at the very least, August, when the bird breeding season is over. However, if they decide not to do so they are choosing a high risk strategy for themselves in terms of breaking the law - since it is a certainty that this felling cannot take place without disturbing nests of breeding birds as defined by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The company is creating catastrophic publicity for itself, and with regards to the latter, I would like to remind them that there is an article being published in the Sunday Telegraph this very weekend about our campaign. More people are contacting us daily, including the media, so Network Rail should know that we will not go away, neither will we stand by and watch this wildlife corridor be destroyed by their contractor's chainsaws on 28th May - especially since there is no special license in place for this work to be undertaken as an emergency public safety issue.
One Sunday in April 2012, Network Rail dropped a leaflet through the letterboxes of a few people living in houses alongside the railway track advising that some vegetation work was to be undertaken by the track. The following day, Network Rail contractors turned up with chainsaws and woodchippers to start felling the trees, exactly as happened months ago in Grange Park
Fortunately, the good people of Whitstable were up and about, had had their first cup of coffee of the day and called the Police, reporting the contractors for breaching the wildlife act. Tree felling was halted pending a meeting between representatives of Whitstable and Network Rail.