Network Rail brings new life to land in Lowestoft: Planting the willows. Councillor Ryan Harvey (left) with Network Rail engineers Stewart Cowan (centre) and Liam Allen (right)

Thursday 2 Feb 2023

Network Rail brings new life to land in Lowestoft

Region & Route:
Eastern: Anglia

A team from Network Rail has cleared an area of disused railway land in Lowestoft and planted 30 young willow trees to boost biodiversity.

The land, which is between the railway line and Denmark Road, was once allotments but became overgrown and also attracted fly-tipping.

After clearing the area of fly-tipped rubbish and overgrown vegetation, the team planted willow trees and added sleeves to protect them while they are young.

Railway colleagues were joined at the planting by Councillor Ryan Harvey from Suffolk County Council.

Network Rail now intends to work with the council, community groups, community rail partners and schools to see how the green space can be further transformed, with an urban nature reserve and vegetable planting as possibilities. 

As well as improving the appearance of the land for lineside neighbours and potentially providing a space for the community, the planting of the willow trees will contribute to biodiversity.

The railway is one of Britain’s biggest landowners and also provides a natural refuge for a vast range of plants and animals. Network Rail is committed to protecting these species by maintaining their habitats and creating new ones.

Plants, hedgerows, shrubs and wildflowers are being planted along the railway to increase biodiversity and offset losses from essential vegetation management. By April, Network Rail’s Anglia route alone will have planted the equivalent of 2000 trees in one year, including the willows at Lowestoft.

Liam Allen, Network Rail Anglia route engineer for drainage and lineside, said: “We wanted to convert this unsightly piece of land into a space that can contribute to both the community and the environment. The railway has an important responsibility as a major landowner and neighbour, and we are determined to make a difference wherever we can.”

Councillor Ryan Harvey from Suffolk County Council said: “My time with the Network Rail team was enjoyable and informative. As we were planting the trees, we discussed various exciting opportunities for putting the land to good use by the community. It was also comforting to hear about the railway’s commitment to protect and improve our environment. I look forward to working collaboratively with Network Rail to see what we can achieve together.”

Notes to Editors

Lowestoft station is on both the Wherry Lines and the East Suffolk Lines, operated by Greater Anglia. Passengers on these lines each have a Community Rail Partnership, bringing together local government, transport operators and community groups. Find out more at and

Last November, Network Rail pledged to leave 16 acres of reedbed on the Wherry Lines to the WildEast movement. This means that the land, near Haddiscoe, will be allowed to grow and thrive as a great place to live for lots of different animals, birds and insects. Find out more

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