I began filming this beautiful tree being butchered. The chainsaws cut through its limbs like butter. It's branches were fed into a machine and spat out like peanuts. If us mere mortals did it we'd be prosecuted...
Suddenly the contractors' manager was on the phone telling them that I had no permission to film. I told them that I didn't need permission as I was on public land and I carried on. Shortly after, British Transport Police arrived following a complaint that I was "being abusive and threatening"
to the contractors. WHAT LIES! The Police Officer spoke to the contractors who knew nothing of the allegations made against me, obviously made by someone higher up the chain of command. I informed the Officer of the facts and he happily left though he must have thought what a wasted journey it had been following the bogus call...
Shortly after, a Network Rail manager, Tom Brand, turned up. He told me that the contractors had got it all wrong. He claimed they were only ever felling two or three trees that were a danger and trimming the rest back. When I asked him why the big Sycamore was being felled, he said that the base was hollow and diseased and had to come down. I was unconvinced. The contractors said it was of no danger and healthy. Had they got it all wrong? Or was this Network Rail saving face in the wake of bad local press following bad national press when the RSPB
criticised them heavily for habitat destruction last year? (BBCNews)
. Why were lies told to the police about me being "abusive and threatening"
? And why did the stump of the "diseased and hollow"
Sycamore, felled the next day, indeed prove to be perfectly healthy?!
I think it is safe to say that all the trees, around 30-40, would have come down in no time had the whistle not been blown. I believe Network Rail's plan was to cut them all down as a money saving measure to avoid coming back to trim them in the future. But they didn't get away with it! 10 lost but 30 saved - RESULT! Thanks to all those who also made their voices heard.
Craig Hornby - Saltburn Resident & RSPB Member.