Armley residents concerned about Network Rail’s felling of trees near the railway line have formed their own campaign group.
Armley Trees group has been set up in response to Network Rail cutting down trees on the railway cutting next to Armley Park Road and Armley Park woods, off Canal Road.
The group is made up of people who live in the Armley Park Road area who are standing up for their local environment and campaigning for meaningful community engagement with Network Rail.
Armley Trees has the support of Armley’s councillors and MP Rachel Reeves, and the group now has its own blog. On it, campaigners wrote:
“We invite others in our community to join us so we can come together and continue to have constructive engagement with Network Rail.
“We want to make sure that Network Rail listen to and act on the complaints and concerns made in the last few weeks by people across our community regarding their tree felling programme.
“We want to get answers and clear information about what they are doing, and aim to influence their plans and to work towards positive outcomes.”
With the support of the Woodland Trust, the group says it has started to have constructive engagement with Network Rail, which has led to the mid-week work which was taking place at street level being temporarily halted until an independent review by The Tree Council has taken place. The group adds:
“Network Rail have also assured us that they will not be doing any work along the bottom of the railway cutting next to the Armley Park Road area this weekend: this was planned to take place in the early hours of Sunday morning (29 September).
“We have written assurance that the fig trees along the fence will not be removed.”
The group will be organising a public meeting once the independent review has taken place:
“One of the aims of this meeting will be for people in our community to ask questions directly to Network Rail, raise concerns and make suggestions as to how this situation can be positively resolved.
“We are aware of the need to ensure passenger safety on the railway (and many of us regularly use the Airedale line as passengers) but we still believe that the wider impacts on the environment and our inner city community as a whole have not been adequately addressed. “
Residents have also complained about poor and contradictory communication from Network Rail, who have apologised and said the communication ‘was not good enough’.
In a statement, Network Rail said:
“Network Rail is constantly balancing the needs of the environment and those who live by the railway with the needs and safety of the 4.6m people who use and rely on our railway every day.
“The work to remove vegetation from the railway cutting is essential safety work.
“The cutting is made up of rocks and the work to remove vegetation from this area is vital to prevent rocks and trees falling on the line, which could impact on the safety of the railway and disrupt train services.”
Follow the Armley Trees blog here.