Network Rail 'should listen' to Hampstead concerns about tree felling

Before and after trees were felled along the Overground by Hampstead Heath station.

Before and after trees were felled along the Overground by Hampstead Heath station. - Credit: Ellie Roche

Community groups have raised concerns about tree felling continuing along the Overground line at the edge of Hampstead Heath next week. 

Network Rail contractors cut down trees on the south side of the railway line - backing on to Constantine Road - on Tuesday and Wednesday (March 9 and 10). 

Residents have expressed their sadness at the destruction of substantial greenery. 

Marc Hutchinson, of the Heath and Hampstead Society, told this newspaper: "The damage done is bad for the amenity of the Heath because, from the Heath, you now see buildings where you'd previously have seen trees.  

"Our aim is to save as many trees as possible."

A handful of trees still standing on the Overground near Hampstead Heath

Residents were upset to see many trees lining the Overground between Hampstead Heath and Gospel Oak had been cut down. - Credit: Joshua Thurston

Marc was one of a number of people to raise worries about the impact on local wildlife. 

Hampstead Town councillor Oliver Cooper said he wants to see Camden Council act to protect some of the trees, citing the example of Bromley Council, which obtained tree preservation orders (TPOs) to guard against felling by Network Rail in 2018. 

He said: "I'm not sure the local authority is as powerless as their statement claims."

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He said Network Rail should pay attention to the complaints. 

"If they don't listen to residents when residents tell them that there's great harm being done to the area then that's a problem."

A Camden Council spokesperson said: "“The council has planning policies which seek to ensure the retention of protected trees which includes those in conservation areas or those subject to TPOs, however, Network Rail as a statutory undertaker have certain powers to carry out tree works on operational land whether or not the site is a conservation area or the tree is protected.”

A Network Rails spokesperson said earlier: “We’re very aware of the impact that removing trees and vegetation can have on local communities and we understand that this can come as a surprise for people who’ve got used to rows of trees or hedges near their homes or workplaces. 

“Managing trees and vegetation is important to the safety of passengers and all of those involved in the running of services and maintenance of the tracks."

The company has said it was investigating concerns raised about nesting birds. A spokesperson added: “We are confident that our contractors are following the correct process and have completed the bird nesting surveys for each day.”