Wildlife around the Sutton/Wimbledon Loop Line are in danger due to the axing of trees amid a £300 million Network Rail upgrade, it's being claimed.

The person, who does not wish to be identified, noticed the trees being removed from the route which is served by Thameslink services earlier this month.

But the infrastructure giant has responded this week (May 15) after it was described as a ‘complete destruction of a highly valued area’.

The person said: “As a local resident and regular user of the railway for more than ten years, I’ve never seen anything like it.

“[It is a] complete destruction of a highly valued area of vegetation which is so important for our wildlife and environment.

“Whilst I appreciate that Network Rail needs to control the vegetation, the current culling of hundreds of trees [across the upgrade] is both overzealous and completely unnecessary.

“It also hasn’t helped that this work is being carried out in late April, early May, when birds are nesting and young foxes are emerging from their dens.”

The Sutton/Wimbledon Loop Line is a circular railway route, which travels through both boroughs, as well as Tooting station which sits in Wandsworth but near to the Merton boundary.

A Network Rail spokesman said the tree removals on the Sutton/Wimbledon Loop Line are being stopped this week.

The ones which were being taken down were up to seven metres away from the rails to ‘improve performance and safety’.

In addition, works are also being carried out across the Brighton Main Lane in addition to other routes which are used by Thameslink.

He said: “We carried out ecological surveys of the affected sites before starting work and our teams were careful to report bird nests or other animal homes – such as badger setts – so our environmental specialist could attend and advise.”

“While much of the work, including the Brighton Main Line itself, has been completed, we have temporarily stopped work on the Sutton Loop awaiting further guidance from Government.”

Incidents caused by vegetation costs Network Rail up to £100 million a year, according to the infrastructure manager.

Meanwhile, rail minister and Orpington MP Jo Johnson has told Network Rail to suspend the axing of trees during the current bird nesting season, only in the exception where it was ‘safety critical’.

He believes ‘more can be done’ to achieve a ‘gold standard’ of vegetation management that is applied across all 20,000 miles of tracks which Network Rail manages.

Mr Johnson said: “How we manage our trees and vegetation - and protect the wildlife that lives in and around them - is an important issue and I understand the concerns of members of the public about how Network Rail does this.

“Cutting back trees can alarm people who enjoy these environments and can especially raise concerns over the effect on birds during nesting season.”