RSPB's red signal to Network Rail
Last modified: 19 June 2012
Network Rail stands accused of destroying birds’ nests on railway land and then hiding behind a shield of Health and Safety excuses.
While public safety is paramount, the rail company stands accused of taking a heavy-duty demolition ball to crack a peanut in its approach to maintaining sidings.
In the latest case, diggers and staff cleared trees, shrubs and scrub from a stretch of trackside land near Islington’s Emirates Stadium last weekend (9 & 10 June). Outraged local residents and Green Party activists moved to halt the work and have staged a sit-in at Network Rail’s HQ in Camden’s York Way.
Local residents claim active nests were destroyed, contravening the Wildlife and Countryside Act. British Transport Police are investigating the claims.
It comes just weeks after a similar ground clearance at Whitstable in Kent was suspended, with agreement not to continue until after the bird breeding season ends. Network Rail claim the work is essential to meet Health and Safety requirements.
Chris Corrigan, the conservation charity’s Regional Director for South East England says: “The RSPB was hoping Network Rail would have learned from the Whitstable experience. This case in Islington suggests that for them, the Act is meaningless and it’s back to business as usual.”
The case has angered MP’s. Jeremy Corbyn, who represents the Islington North constituency, has tabled a Parliamentary motion, supported by Green MP Caroline Lucas, describing Network Rail’s behaviour as “insensitive toward the natural environment, nesting birds, [and] the local community”.
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