Transport for London has been accused of “environmental vandalism” on embankments on the Metropolitan line in Pinner.
Locals claim that contractors are being “excessive” with their removal of trees and vegetation that often provides a buffer against noise and light pollution from the Tube line.
Emma Wallace, a Green Party GLA candidate in the upcoming elections, has compiled a report into the issue after being contacted by local environmentalists and concerned residents.
Ms Wallace said: “TfL contractors have been arriving daily with chainsaws, strimmers and tree chippers and removing huge stretches of trees and vegetation running along the Metropolitan line between Pinner towards Northwood Hills.
“This act of environmental vandalism has meant a biodiverse, green corridor has now been severely reduced, impacting nearby residents’ health and mental well-being, as well as removing habitat for local wildlife.”
She has started a petition calling for an immediate end to the “excessive” removal of vegetation along trackside embankments and for biodiversity surveys to be carried out before any future work begins.
She added: “Whilst the loss of wildlife is tragic in itself, it is also the impact on residents’ health and well-being that is of huge concern.
“The local community was not informed by TfL that these works were going to be carried out, consequently have not had an opportunity to raise concerns or ask for a consultation to be carried out.
“They are now left without trees to protect them from the pollution, light and noise from frequent trains passing, both on the Met line and the Chiltern Railway.”
Karen Pillai set up the Pinner Green Junior Wildlife Club to provide local children a chance to enjoy wildlife while improving the area’s biodiversity through projects such as a communal fruit garden.
Ms Pillai claimed that no ecological surveys were carried out before the work began and that contractors have “ripped everything out”, destroying habitats and leading to a significant reduction in wildlife.
She said: “They’ve ripped out the undergrowth, they’ve ripped out plants that were growing against our fences that were protecting us from all the noise and the sound and the light pollution at night. And air pollution obviously, and all the dust from trains. Those trees were also a habitat for wildlife.”
Ms Pillai continued: “My argument is, the ecologists are pushing for green corridors. We already have green corridors, it’s just that TfL is destroying them. The mayor (of London) has asked for so many thousands of trees to be planted, but they’re not even enough to cover the number of trees they’ve been chopping down.”
A TfL spokesperson today told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the removal of vegetation is part of an ongoing “essential maintenance programme” and that some trees have been identified as “safety risks”.
The TfL spokesperson said: “We take our responsibilities as a good neighbour very seriously when removing trees or other vegetation from near our railway. We always do our utmost to remove only what is necessary, and to leave embankments to grow where possible.
“We are currently carrying out an essential maintenance programme in this area and any trees or vegetation identified as safety risks must be removed. However, we can reassure people in the area that safety is our top priority and vegetation is only removed when there is an absolute need to do so.”