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Network Rail

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether her Department was consulted by Network Rail in respect of its plans to cut back vegetation along railway lines; whether the matter has been discussed with the Department of Transport; and if she has made an assessment of the tree removal programme with regard to biodiversity. [114078]

All wild birds, and certain animals and plants, are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. For all birds, listed plants and animals it is an offence to kill, or take any species. Licences can be issued under section 16 of the Act to derogate from this protection for specific reasons, such as public health and safety.Network Rail has not consulted the Department, nor have officials discussed this matter with the Department of Transport. However, where railway companies propose to remove trees, scrub or vegetation from railway properties, the Department would advise that such work is undertaken outside of the breeding and rearing season for birds, and with the minimum of disruption to animals and plants.The Department has not made an assessment of the effect of the tree removal programme on biodiversity.