On 18th March contractors for Network Rail began taking out the bramble hedge along the Exeter platform of Pinhoe Station. Despite contact from residents concerned about the removal of wildlife habitat during nesting season, Network Rail confirmed they had urgent safety concerns about the site:
“The section is next to a children’s park and the fencing required renewal, as it was felt it was not safe enough to stop children from getting onto the railway. While erecting the fence it was found we would need to do some vegetation clearance to erect the fence. At this present time, there are no plans to re-plant any trees as it is believed that in six to twelve months the site will have grown a substantial amount of vegetation in the area”
Network Rail stated that work completed at the station was a fencing renewal which had been “arranged and approved by Exeter Council” and Pinhoe’s councillors confirmed they had known about the removal ‘a couple of weeks’ before. Despite substantial impact on both wildlife and the landscape setting of the park, councillors emphasised that there was “nothing they could do” as this land is owned and managed by Network Rail. In response to questions about whether safety concerns could have been addressed when the play park was redeveloped at a cost of £120k, Cllr David Harvey stated that: “Exeter City Council had no safety concerns when the play park was refurbished” and underlined that council officers inspect fencing and equipment ‘on a regular basis’.
Having requested a copy of the site survey undertaken, our Freedom of Information (FOI) request was acknowledged on 5th April and Network Rail have confirmed they will respond by 6th May (at the latest).
No information has been forthcoming regarding the landscape setting of the proposed Community Hub building adjacent to this site and it remains unclear whether Network Rail is coordinating with the group to mitigate concerns about wildlife habitat. In response to local concern, Pinhoe’s councillors posted the following statement:
“ECC can only negotiate terms relating to the reinstatement of damage, and or safety conditions surrounding access or egress…In this case, ECC asked Network Rail to reinstate the fence line that they have taken down and put in place safety provisions enabling residents to continue to use the play area during construction. This however is the extent of the anticipated impact on ECC land and the most we can request of Network Rail”
Meanwhile, what was once a thriving habitat for birds and wildlife alongside the children’s play park has been reduced to an eyesore attracting litter – including waste left behind by the contractors themselves.
Information received regarding Network Rail’s site survey will be shared here as soon as receivedfollowing our FOI request
The brilliant Jess Liebig has been busy organising a wildflower garden, with Lee from Libraries Unlimited, our community builder Ebbie and a fantastic bunch of volunteers from Wild Pinhoe. There’s space for scouts and guides to do some planting now the borders have been dug out and you’ll never spot the hedgehog box from Robin Hoad because it’s been so well camouflaged! Look out for plants being grown on by The Little House which are destined to flourish here #LovePinhoe
With trees disappearing across Monkerton, we noted with some alarm the precarious position of major mature trees in the Linden Homes’ Tithebarn development.
UPDATE FROM EXETER CITY COUNCIL: “Mark Waddams has been out to visit the Tithebarn (Linden Homes) site and is satisfied that the tree protection is up to standard (BS5837) and that the retained trees are not under threat. ECC are currently updating the Tree and Woodland Strategy and are hoping to have it ready early this year.”
Meanwhile, we are pleased to be supporting a project to plant 800 trees on the Monkerton ridge, proposed by Exeter’s Tree Manager, Joe Morshead. It’s positive news and we hope the funding is successful. These trees will take decades to establish and our existing mature trees remain very precious indeed.
It’s hard to believe these grand old oaks are under such pressure – they are well known as major contributors to biodiversity and shelter a huge variety of birds and insects.
As our local resident notes, the loss of wildlife habitats across this site is devastating, opening the whole estate to the railway. Once these old hedgerows are gone, any replanting will take 30 years to recover what has been lost.
We will keep highlighting problems to local councillors and Exeter City Council, so please continue to send your pictures: email@example.com
Nominate your favourite tree by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or writing your contact details in the PINHOE VILLAGE book in Alicia’s
Sheena Dick : Bishop’s Palace Horse Chestnut, Langaton Lane
Nominated by Sheena Dick, this beautiful young horse chestnut tree was grown from a conker found in the Bishop’s Palace, by local resident and Exeter city red-coat guide Ken Rodley. Sheena remembers Ken as a fascinating man and interesting speaker who was passionate about the city of Exeter. Ken planted the tree in the hedgerow alongside a beautiful beech – you can just see its autumn colours.
CllrDuncan Wood: Station Road Oak
If you walk through Station Road Playing Field towards the junction with Cumberland Way, you’ll find this magnificent oak tree stretching its boughs over the nearby bus stop and Pin Brook. Nominated by Councillor Duncan Wood.
Thanks to information from Alderman John Landers, we are beginning our investigations to reclaim the community field on Langaton Lane. This neglected haven of wildlife was given to the community and we are endeavouring to secure its future. Please contact us if you have any information; thank you.