Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bristol to Bath Railway Path damage

Copy of email sent to Cllr Jon Rogers this afternoon: You may have seen this post, with photos, on Chris Hutt's blog detailing damage to greenery on the railway path.

I'm very concerned about this - particularly the tree losses. They seem very over the top (and not the first time in council tree management history!).

Please look into this and let me know whether what's being done is absolutely necessary, is best practice and if so what kind of restoration work is planned.

Many thanks to Chris Hutt for bringing this to my attention and that of others.
Cllr Rogers posted this reply (below in bold italic*) on Chris Hutt's blog - do we buy all that the officer's say?? I dont agree with the 'low ecological value' statement for a start - they seem to have a very different view of the terms ecology and value to mine! All the techniques and processes used should be reviewed.
I have had the following officer response,
"We were aware of the sensitivity regarding the railway path and the potential negative impact on trees or vegetation. As such we have tried throughout the whole design process to limit this impact. Right at the start of this project we commissioned an Ecological survey. The survey identified that the habitats along the route were of low ecological value but that it was an important corridor of virtually continuous vegetation from the open countryside to highly urban parts of inner Bristol. It therefore enhances the ecology of a large part of Bristol by allowing species access to spaces such as gardens and parks. It is also of significant importance in providing a large number of people an opportunity to come into contact with wildlife.
"The dominant vegetation is secondary woodland dominated by ash and sycamore. We have worked in partnership with aboricultural colleagues in Parks to assess the quality of trees and the impact of the works on this and licences were granted by the Forestry Commission for felling. "There are two reasons for the felling the first being that the excavation of trenches ( into which lighting cables are to be laid) would require the cutting of tree roots. The root protection zone of a tree is generally 24 times the diameter of the tree stem. As a visual representation the roots underground generally mirror the extents of a trees canopy.
"The advice from colleagues in Parks is that trees do not survive if their roots are cut and the roots closest to the surface are the most important. The position of such trees could be remote from the line of the trench and to the general public could be seen as excessive clearance. The second reason for tree felling is to promote biodiversity within the corridor and this has taken place on the southern bank. A thick tree canopy prevents sun light to the ground flora limiting the number of species which then limits the quality of the habitat for fauna. The ecological diversity created retaining some of the cut back tree stumps and shrubs on a coppice cycle of regular cutting back can for example create more nesting sites for birds. The extra light that is let onto the ground will encourage more wild flowers, birds and butterflies and the additional insects using the space will also provide a richer feeding ground for bats.
"As mitigation we are planting new trees, which are native species unlike many of the self seeded trees. This planting was carried out in winter 2009 and more trees will be planted next week. During the informal consultation, carried out in June and July 2009 and throughout the planning process we attempted to explain that tree removal would be carried out and that new planting would take place.
"I trust this explains the approach we have taken and the reasons why."
I am deeply unhappy that the first that Gary and I hear about this is from emails and your blog. We have already asked that any Cycling City developments that affect mature and substantial trees should be discussed with us as Executive Members.This is a wonderful linear park and wildlife corridor, which we are determined to conserve and enhance as was confirmed by the motion we attempted to get through council in April 2008.


  1. I SAW THAT!

    the guys cutting them down said to me that the council had ordered them to vut down the trees as it makes people feel safer....



    How many more times must we make this claer to the council? real provision for cycling on the roads (and i dont mean simply a little bit of red paint on the floor)

    I have now seen copenhagen, amsterdam, many parts of france, all doing this. why do Bristol council struggle with this?

  2. another cyclist is fighting for his life in the BRI as I type this message. another injury on gloucester road.

    It has become the norm in bristol for cars to do mmore than 30mph!
    In france, the police are always stopping cars for speeding.


Genuine, open, reasonable debate is most welcome. Comments that meet this test will always be published.