Residents campaign against tree clearance along West Brockley railway line

Scorched earth policy: tree cover has been removed from back gardens

Residents in West Brockley have launched a protest campaign against tree clearance by Network Rail along the railway line behind Avignon and Aspinall Roads.

Reader Oli explains:

Network Rail appear to be currently on a tree-cutting mission country-wide, and it's most recent victims have been the residents living alongside the railways in Brockley. I live on Aspinall Road and all the trees that previously ran along side the railway at the back of our garden have all been cut down.

We got a handposted note from Railtrack's contractors warning there would be some night work involving 'tidying-up railside vegetation', but it actually turned out to be whole sale mature tree cutting down.

Another member of the community, Maria Gonzalez, posted a note through our letterboxes this week summarising the situation better than I can:

a) We have lost our privacy: now we can see the properties on the other side of the railway and every passing train allows passengers to look straight into our bedrooms.

b) We are being disturbed by increased vibration/noise pollution coming from the trains.

c) We are distressed by this pointless annilation of nature. The new view from our windows is an awful scene of destruction and devastation. Additionally, there are more foxes on the street around us as they have lost their homes.

d) We are unhappy that residents had not been properly consulted. What's more, a 'round-robin' letter was delivered which explained that some vegetation was going to be removed. This seems deceptive when in the end all the trees along the line have been chopped down.

e) Our houses have been devalued.

All the above will be exacerbated when the Thameslink upgrade kicks in with the proposed increase in trains.

The contractors [have told me] that they were clearing all vegetation within 5 metres of the running rail. By law, they are allowed to do this up to 10 metres, with the exception of conservation area where the 5 metre limit is the maximum. They said that where there were residential properties they tried to adhere to 5 meteres even if it was not a conservation area.

With regards regrowth, they siad that the tree stumps had been treated with a substance that prevents regrowth. Therefore the current trees won't grow back. They have tried to leave a screen of vegetation where possible, but that won't help us with the view, especially from the first floor.

1) Other neighbours have been in touch with Lewisham Council. Are you one of them? We need to join forces

2) Gather photographic evidence of the trees cut. It would be helpful if you had a photo of how it looked before and how it looks now

3) Get in touch with Lewisham Council to complain

4) Complain to Network Rail - tel 08457 114 141. Ask for a reference number

5) Get in touch with Joan Ruddock, our MP. Her website is: It'll be good to make her aware of our concerns and also our councillor Chris Flood (Socialist Party), and the Lewisham Green Party.

Please contact Maria by email:

Oli adds:

We're cracking on with the campaign - Joan Ruddock MP is going to contact Network Rail and questions will be asked at the mayoral question time.

It would be great if you could post a quick thing on Brockley Central to see if anyone else was affected and would like to add their name to our petition.

The view from Oli's window (above) looks like clear-cutting in the Amazon and although we're not sure what can be done, we wish them well with their action.