Network Rail have begun a tree and vegetation management project, operating on the line between Evanton and Invergordon in the Scottish Highlands, with works taking place overnight.
The upcoming works will take place between June and September, seeing workers operating along an 8 mile stretch of the Far North lin. The planned works will seek to clear trees and vegetation from the adjacent land within the railway boundary, which will keep passengers safe and trains punctual whilst reducing the risk for lineside neighbours.
Starting from the 13th June, a team will be working day and night to carry out the requisite clearances, with a duration of around 16 weeks to clear a 3-metre strip from the outside rail to the boundary. De-weeding will also be imperative as the workers will need to treat noxious and invasive non-native weeds within the railway corridor.
The tree maintenance could slow proceedings down as any heritage, landscape specimen trees will need to be carefully considered for felling on a case-by-case basis and be retained, if safe to do so. The other trees, within a falling of the railway will be cut-back or felled entirely to leave a tree canopy that will not disrupt the natural aesthetic around the line.
Kirsty Armstrong, Scheme Project Manager for the vegetation clearance work said,
“Network Rail manages thousands of miles of trees and vegetation along the railway to ensure that everything which grows lineside is safe and does not cause delays to trains.
“Through the management of lineside trees and vegetation, Network Rail aims to protect the safety of the operational railway line. This keeps passengers safe and reduces risks for lineside neighbours.
“Elements of this work are unavoidably at night for safety reasons; however, the teams are always mindful of the impact their work may have and do what they can to minimise this. We want to apologise in advance if anyone is disturbed by the work
Before these works began, extensive environmental surveys were carried out in the area that also saw inspections for nesting birds and other protected species. Environmental impacts from these types of projects can be damaging, so Network Rail worked alongside ecologists to minimise these potentially damaging works.
Input from local communities is important when conducting projects such as these to ensure public support and for companies to understand the least intrusive forms of conducting necessary works. With this in mind, those living closest to the line have been advised about the work by letter with a FAQs section which anticipates and responds to many of the concerns people have raised.
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