Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Railway Path - Before and After

Following on from yesterday's post about the excessive tree felling on the Railway Path north of Ridgeway Road I've dug out a few pics to try to give a 'before and after' effect. The before pics, taken without permission from Martyn's railwaypath blog, were taken in the spring of 2008 and so include foliage which would not be present in mid winter, but it gives some idea of the impact on the visual environment of the Path, even allowing for some greening of the denuded embankments over the next few months. One can at least see why the impact is a bit shocking to regular Path users who have grown used to feeling as though they are travelling through dense woodland.

Above and berlow - looking northeast towards Lodge Causeway Bridge from a position north of Drummond Road footbridge.

All the tree felling depicted here is on the south side of the Path. The lighting trench is being installed on the north side so the damage to tree roots will be confined to the that side. Likewise the need to clear around the lighting columns to avoid foliage obscuring them will be confined to the north side. Virtually all the south side felling is unnecessary in the context of the installation of lighting.

Above and below - looking southwest towards Drummond Road footbridge.


tree fellas said...

Looks much better

tree fellas said...


Martyn said...

Chris: You have permission to republish my photos. If you re-visit my blog try clicking on the images to get the full size originals at better resolution.

Chris Hutt said...

Thanks Martyn. I would have asked for permission first but these things are often done in a rush in the early morning and I was pretty sure you wouldn't mind.

You blog is a valuable resource as an extensive record of the vegetation in the spring of 2008. It would be good to have a matching set for say 1968, 1978, 1988, and 1998 so one can appreciate the changes over time. I've got a few historical pictures and I'll try to put together another 'before and after' post some time.

Forest Pines said...

There may potentially be an issue of bank stability here. From the 1840s to the mid-1960s, vegetation was restricted to grasses and shrubs by summer grass fires triggered by passing trains. Since then, railway operators have found that keeping the vegetation down is actually a rather good idea when it comes to maintaining the infrastructure.

There's more likely to be a general issue of access for erecting the new lighting. If poles are going to be put up by cranes or similar vehicles, the path will need to be absolutely clear of overhanging vegetation in their path; given the width that a bough could cantilever over, that probably does justify tree-cutting over the entirety of the railway formation.

Chris Hutt said...

FP, I doubt if the relatively short lighting columns being installed weigh more than about 50 kg. Would a crane be required? Probably just a cherry picker.

Martyn said...

Chris: I just wish I had documented it before the council cut back removed the vegetation around Owen Square Park, beside the Plough in Easton (see No.10). In retrospect, I realised spring is quite a good time for recording trees as you can still see through their branches to the landscape beyond, whilst your mind can fill in the foliage which would be there in summer. Needles to say my request for a blanket TPO was refused on the grounds it would be too much work and the tree officer who spoke with me said they were all protected under the council's own policies. I never got any written confirmation of this, despite several requests.

The Bristol Blogger said...

The path is named as a protected wildlife corridor in the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy.

This just seems to be ignored by officers though. cf. selling land for 'Railway Houses'.

sued said...

Typical chain saw happy council tree officers making these kind of decisions with no consideration for anything but convenience. this is a real shame for the path and will take years to recover. What about some guerilla gardening to ensure future regrowth? Also replacement cover for the wildlife.

Anonymous said...

Anyone go down to the Tree Planting session on the Railway Path today?

Jon Rogers said...

I went along to the tree planting this morning.

I also took the opportunity of cycling the length of the Railway Path up past Morrison's with one of our officers.

This is my recollection of some of what I was told. Inaccuracies are mine.

I guess 40 or 50 trees were planted today to add to those planted a year ago, and those just before Christmas. Local residents, school children and workers were hard at work.

I was impressed by the officer. He described in some detail (and to my satisfaction) the rationale for all the tree work along the path.

We looked at where trees had been growing at angles out of retaining walls.

We looked at trees with multiple trunks, that were splitting and liable to fall. (There remain such examples higher up the banks, where a fall won't land on the path)

We looked at poplar roots that damage the path (the original woodland varieties planted in some sections were perhaps ill advised)

We looked at how some trees close to the path were removed because of proximity to the lighting trench, especially where the other side of the tree had no roots due to deep retaining walls

We looked at the many varieties of new trees, which will increase biodiversity.

We looked at where the wood chippings had been spread on the banks to help growth (other wood had been chipped for our sustainable biomass boilers)

We looked at the new trees planted along the route to Speedwell School.

I listened in disgust to hear how council workers have been spat upon by some cyclists. From what I saw today, these guys are doing a careful and considered job.

As I said in an earlier post, I regret that we did not flag up the work better, but despite what others have said, we do need to manage our woodland, particularly to ensure safety, biodiversity, and the environment.


Chris Hutt said...

Thanks for the feedback Jon.

I'm surprised that anyone should go as far as spitting at workers, but if true I guess it indicates the strength of feelings aroused by such wholesale tree felling.

I think we have to remember that it was only two years ago when the Council was intent on effectively destroying the whole Path to create a BRT track. That policy has yet to be abandoned!

More recently we had the squalid episode of the clandestine sell-off by the Council of Path land to a developer which will result in the loss of a long section of hedgerow.

The overall impression, rightly in my view, is that the Council cannot be trusted as far as the Railway Path is concerned. Every proposal for 'improvements' needs to be carefully scrutinised to see what the truth is.

In this case there was little if any public information about the proposed tree felling which is clearly far in excess of what is required in connection with the lighting project. That I think is the root of the problem.

I also think it a mistake to carry out to high impact works (lighting and 'ecological' tree felling) simultaneously. Each has a major visual impact and the combination of the two in one location is quite shocking to see.

I can see that it may be more efficient (and therefore cheaper) to carry out all the works in one go but this needs to be balanced against the harm done to the image and status of the Path by so much visual impact and disruption.

The Council has an uphill task in demonstrating to Path users that it genuinely cares for the Path and has its best interests at heart. The events of the last couple of weeks have not helped.

Colin Cooper said...

"but if it [spitting] is true I guess it indicates the strength of feelings aroused by such wholesale tree felling."

Spitting at people who are doing their jobs is abhorrent, regardless of any strength of feeling.

Chris Hutt said...

I can think of many things that are far more abhorrent. I'm not condoning spitting at someone but it's a relatively harmless way of venting anger or frustration when you consider the alternatives.

Dave said...

So Chris, if I find what you do and say makes me frustrated and angry I can spit in your face! Nice!

Anonymous said...

So Chris, if I find what you do and say makes me frustrated and angry I can spit in your face. Blimey..nice world that would create! These people are paid employees of the council not the decision makers!

Chris Hutt said...

Dave/Anon (tip - best choose one or the other), if I came into your garden and started chopping down your trees I'd consider myself lucky to get away with just being spat at.

The Council should be aware that people are very unhappy about the wholesale felling of trees without there being any obvious good reason, especially somewhere like the Railway Path.

The Council has a duty to its staff to ensure that there is adequate explanation to the general public of the need for the such tree felling to avoid them being on the receiving end of such anger as appears to have been provoked in this case.

Anonymous said...

In the same light, cyclists..I am one! should have an ounce of intelligence to understand that council workers are just doing their job. If a cyclists was cycling on the pavement would I have the right to spit in their face. Strange peverted view in my opinion!

Anon and Dave!

Chris Hutt said...

So whose strange perverted view is that? It's certainly not mine.

I made clear above that I did not condone spitting at workers on the Path, for obvious reasons. I merely offered an explanation as to why such a thing might have happened if indeed it did (we only have hearsay evidence, so there may be no substance to it anyway).

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it.

Tree fellas said...

You look very foolish over this Mr Hutt. It is unacceptable to spit at people doing their jobs and your feeble explanation is no excuse. You must be a very twisted individual if you ask people to make 'civilised points' on your blog but are happy to try and explain away uncivilised behaviour on the streets of Bristol.

Can you not bring yourself to say that this behaviour is wrong, whatever the council does? People doing their jobs do not deserve this kind of behaviour and your 'it makes people angry' line about the tress doesn't wash. Is it acceptable if you spit at a bus driver when a bus is late? Or spit at a plumber when they can't fix your tap?

Chris Hutt said...

TF, you are obviously so desperate to find some grounds for criticising me that you are reduced to implying I have said something that I plainly haven't.

Surely you can find something in the hundreds of blog posts here that is worthy of criticism based on what I have actually said rather than something I haven't actually said?

Tree Fellas said...

Happy to dish it out, but not willing to accept criticism, eh? So who said this......

'I'm surprised that anyone should go as far as spitting at workers, but if true I guess it indicates the strength of feelings aroused by such wholesale tree felling.'

Do you find that kind of behaviour acceptable? No weasle words or wriggling now. Acceptable or not?

Chris Hutt said...

There's nothing in that statement to suggest it's acceptable. I'm really surprised you even think the question arises. Isn't it obvious that it's unacceptable behaviour?

Anonymous said...

This is quite amusing! Nothing changes! Many years ago (late 80s/early 90s) I was in charge of the maintenance team that 'looked after' the cycleway from Crews Hole to Midland Road. The area behind the railway yard nr L.Hill was almost a tunnel of buddleia (about which the cyclists had complained) when we started. Whilst clearing we also were sworn at; spat at; assaulted, and many cyclists refused to slow down as they passed us while we were working (despite the danger to THEM). And none seemed to have any bells, to warn of their approach. Do they now? (and NO we didn't spit back!... but we up-ended a few speedies... accidentaly of course... BUY A BELL!)

Chris Hutt said...

Crew's Hole? Isn't that in the Avon Valley? Yet you seem to be referring to the Railway Path? Did you mean Clay Bottom?

Again I'm surprised that anyone would spit at you. It seems so disproportionate, even if one believes the vegetation shouldn't be cut.

Anonymous said...

I would have spat on them as well.

Absolutely disgraceful.

then i would of taken a big dump on the council house steps, fucking bastards.

And they say it makes people feel safer. Stop copping out BBC sort out the speeding motorists and the dangerous roads. Thatd make me feel safer. Cutting down trees, disgraceful. BCC just want everything nice and sterile - just like cabot consumer circus

Chris Hutt said...

To Anon who commented at about 1.12 this morning. I've deleted your comment since the language used was offensive. If you want to make your point in a more reasoned way feel free.

Anonymous said...

The anon at 1.12 wasn't me... and yes, I did mean Clay bottom. Although we also did work on the Avon walkway, especially around Feeder/Cattlemarket Road, where some cyclists were equally unappreciative.(mainly the lycra-Yellow-Shirt variety) We had to virtually block the cycleway with our vans just to encourage cyclists to slow down as they passed.
Perhaps, when 'improvement' works are done in future, the council should just completely close-off the relevant section to protect their contractors from abuse.

Chris Hutt said...

Did you try putting up signs to advise path users of the maintenance works in progress and the need to slow down? In my experience contractors are very haphazard about such things and often only consider motorists (e.g. blocking footways and cycletracks with signs advising motorists of a road narrowing). I'm not suggesting that you were that bad but the 'culture' tends to be gung-ho, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

It's de riguer to put signage in place when working for a local authority, even then, besides, a large van with flashing lights should be enough of an indication that care should be taken. We were tempted to try traffic lights, but as someone pointed out, that may be counter productive.
I'm just amused that the attitude of some cyclists toward maintenance workers (& pedestrians) who dare to invade their sanctified ground for whatever reason hasn't changed much in 20 years. Nor, it seems,has that of their defenders.
As to lighting... why?

Chris Hutt said...

Who has been defending such behaviour as spitting at workers? I merely offered an explanation as to why it might happen in response to the tree felling.

As for the lighting, I wouldn't have thought it that important myself, but then I'm not a regular user of the Path in the dark so have little experience of how problematical the lack of lighting might be at busy times.

There is the energy and maintenance costs to consider too. Many cyclists pride themselves on having a low environmental impact but with lighting on all night on the Path that could be called into question.