(Statement from Fiona Mackinnon on behalf of the Strathbungo Society)
Network Rail are planning to cut down every tree along the 11 miles of track between East Kilbride and Glasgow Central. Their timetable starts in September i.e . now. When the chainsaws and giant chippers plan to arrive to work all night in Strathbungo, we do not know.
The Chair, Treasurer and Secretary of the Society and a number of local residents went along on Monday night to Network Rail’s ‘drop-in information’ session but came away shocked by the potential scale of destruction planned but also by the lack of detail from Network Rail about what they will do and when. Most importantly there was no real explanation why.
They seem to have a new policy which no longer just cuts down trees to a certain distance from the track or take down only large and dangerous trees. This time they imply that they will destroy every tree to the boundary line of their land. There is a possibility in the distant future of electrifying the line which would reduce diesel pollution but it could come at the price of removing the listed footbridge that they have spent over a quarter of a million pounds restoring. Nothing is clear.
If you have been in Strathbungo for a while you will have a sense of deja vu. We have been here before with Network Rail. Their corporate memory seems a bit short… Nobody in Strathbungo wants to compromise safety on the railway but there is a lack of proportion to this plan which if implemented would devastate precious habitat for birds, mammals and insects and rob residents of the screening from noise and pollution that trees provide.
As the Amazon burns and life-threatening storms, floods and droughts threaten the whole planet, Climate Emergency has finally become an issue that global governments are starting to address.
At a Scottish level, our government at Holyrood have declared a Climate Emergency and at local council level in Glasgow, ideas like using redundant golf courses for tree planting to increase wildlife habitat, curb pollution and sequester carbon are being actively considered.
This proposal from Network Rail is blatantly out of step, based on very outdated thinking and ignores all current research and practice for seeing trees as an asset which can help store carbon. Twenty-five square meters of woodland can store a tonne of carbon. There are nearly twelve thousand square meters just in the section of track from Crossmyloof to Nithsdale Road. If this is cut down that is a huge store of carbon release to warm the planet, destroy our climate and decimate human and wildlife populations.
We know that Network Rail have an independent report delivered to them last November which clearly told them they are not maintaining or valuing their (actually our) amazing assets. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/759698/valuing-nature_a-railway-for-people-and-wildlife-the-network-rail-vegetation-management-review.pdf
Network Rail are responsible for over 6 million trees and as one of the biggest public landowners they control 20,000 miles of trackside habitat that is ideal for wildlife, across every type of landscape in the country from remote Highland peat bog to the urban wildlife corridors though our biggest cities. Yet they have drawn up plans to decimate this asset by taking a chainsaw to the trees and destroying vital resources for birds, mammals and insects. The unique flora of the trackside will also be lost as wood chips are scattered more than a foot deep smothering every living thing.
The report they are ignoring is called “Valuing Nature : A Railway for People and Wildlife” It sets out the fact that all public bodies must as a matter of urgency change their policies to conserve biodiversity and act against climate emergencies. Network Rail is described as having a “lack of strategic vision and ambition, and limited evidence of a culture that values the environment as a national asset”
The people who live in Strathbungo and all along the railway line do value the asset of beautiful green trees they see every day, alive with birds, squirrels, badgers, bats and foxes.
The Strathbungo Society had a successful approach to working with Network Rail over the handsome fence that was recently installed – despite Network Rail wanting high security prison style barriers so we are approaching this problem of potential destruction with the same determination.
The Society has written to Network Rail asking that they put any work planned for the area on hold until they have met with us and our political representatives including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Alison Thewliss our MP (Network Rail is a reserved issue to Westminster) and our four ward Councillors.
The Society has also requested plans, policy documents and assessments from Network Rail and we will keep you posted about what emerges. Please come along to the next Committee Meeting next Tuesday the 17th of September in The Bungo Bar at 7.30.
In the meantime, it is important to take your own steps to find out more from Network Rail, offer your objections to the plans and contact your political representatives and any campaign groups that you feel are appropriate.
There is another “information” – note, not “consultation” – meeting TONIGHT, Wednesday the 11th September 4pm – 7pm
Giffnock Library, Station Road, Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, G46 6JF
Don’t sit back and assume someone else will send that email or tweet – you have the power to do it yourself !
Nichola Sturgeon MSP : https://www.parliament.scot/msps/currentmsps/99302.aspx
Alison Thewliss MP : https://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/alison-thewliss/4430
Cllr Hanif Raja :
Network Rail :