Success in campaign against Network Rail’s tree cutting mission

Jean with fellow campaigners (L-R) Keith Keld, Melanie Hefford ('CHIP' - Conserving Habitats in Porchester), Jenny Knight, Jean Wigmore,  Kay Keld'Picture: Duncan Shepherd
Jean with fellow campaigners (L-R) Keith Keld, Melanie Hefford ('CHIP' - Conserving Habitats in Porchester), Jenny Knight, Jean Wigmore, Kay Keld'Picture: Duncan Shepherd
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DOZENS of trees are to be saved along a rail line thanks to the determined nature of residents.

Network Rail announced last month that hundreds of trees and bushes would be cut down behind homes in Beaufort Avenue, Fareham.

Led by Jean Wigmore, the neighbours rallied to protect the trees that line the rail route and joined forces with the Tree Council to save over half of the 256 trees destined for destruction.

Jean said: ‘I am absolutely over the moon that we have achieved this.

‘I worked so hard day and night researching and finding facts to stop this deforestation from going ahead and we have been successful.’

The former police officer brought in the wildlife police among other organisations as part of her unyielding campaign to prevent what she previously described as ‘pure deforestation’ and save a variety of animals who call the woodland home.

The 60-year-old said: ‘You can take the girl out the police but not the police out the girl and although I am retired I feel as if I have been working full time plus over time to prevent this from happening.

‘What is also amazing is that John Stokes who from the Tree Council said he has never been called to a situation like this before the trees have been cut down and so this is a first for him which shows us putting our head above the parapet is history in the making.’

Additionally to the environmental and animal welfare concerns, the neighbours were also worried the bank behind their gardens would subside due to the trees being uprooted.

Jean added: ‘When we first heard about this back in October, we were really worried we were going to lose our gardens because of the soil structure and the tree roots keep it altogether. 

‘To say I am chuffed to bits is an understatement and even the trees that are being cut down will now only be coppiced so they will regrow instead of being killed off.’

A Network Rail spokeswoman said: ‘The competing challenges we face in managing vegetation near the railway are well known; safety for passengers, maintaining habitat for wildlife and the impact on our neighbours.

‘We have well thought out standards and policies that help us balance the safety of passengers with the needs of the environment.

‘We continue to work alongside communities and experts in the field, including the Tree Council, to minimise the impact of our vegetation management while ensuring the continued safe operation of the railway.’