Anger over ‘unnecessary destruction of trees’ along the Bluebell Railway line
Tree clearance along a section of the disused Bluebell Railway line at Ardingly has been condemned as ‘unnecessary destruction of a little bit of Sussex wilderness.’
Ardingly resident Sam Sandford-Pike is upset after, he said, trees were felled during the bird-nesting season.
He described the area as ‘a scene of utter devastation’ that he discovered while out dog-walking.
However the Bluebell Railway itself maintains that the work undertaken was ‘minor clearing of tree branches.”
The Bluebell Railway was granted planning approval from Mid Sussex District Council in February for the erection of a new track bed across a cattle arch on the disused section of line between Horsted Keynes and Ardingly.
Sam said that, as well as clearing trees, a number of fires had been lit to burn the timber and brash sited along the line.
“Not only have they destroyed a beautiful and untouched area of countryside but they have done so in the middle of the nesting season for all sorts of song birds, small mammals and bats.”
He added: “This was a disused railway line which had been untouched by humans for at least 20 years and in that time had become a haven for birds, bats and all sorts of other wildlife.
“Fallen trees, ivy and dead timber providing food and harbour and so much incredible habitat that is so scarce nowadays.”
He added: “I am very pragmatic of the fact that this project was and is going to happen but to do what they have done at this time of year makes me so so angry and upset.”
A spokesman for the Bluebell Railway said: “In response to the report received from the public, Bluebell Railway wish to advise that the work observed related to the minor clearing of tree branches that were blocking access to a bridge that requires reinstatement.
“Bluebell Railway maintain that the vegetation that was removed was not significant in terms of bird nesting.
“Bluebell Railway employs a consultant to advise on environmental issues, and as a result, work to two minor bridges will not commence until a further survey is undertaken in mid-June to check that no bats are present.
“No major works will commence between Horsted Keynes and Ardingly until necessary planning permission has been obtained.”