ANGRY neighbours have confronted chainsaw-wielding workmen in a last-ditch attempt to save dozens of acacias being felled by Network Rail.

The trees are being removed from a stretch of the railway line along Addison Road, Hove.

Resident Gabbi Naylor called in to report the tree-felling as it was happening.

She said: “They’re cutting them down right now: I can hear the saw screeching. A man’s up a post with a chainsaw. Hold on a second.”

Gabbi and several other residents confronted the workmen, who agreed to hold fire after the press and local councillors were contacted.

Gabbi said: “For all we know the remaining trees might be gone by tonight. Most of our trees and those of neighbours have been lost for ever. But if we act now, some can still be saved.”

In the past residents here have climbed up the trees to protect them.

Addison Road resident Ramina Duplain said: “The ‘tree-huggers’ here have managed to hold them off so far but it’s all happened so fast.”

Network Rail said it was removing the trees for the safety of passengers.

It said an ecological impact assessment was carried out and it has been in touch with the council. Network Rail also said it planned the works to avoid the formal bird nesting season.

A spokesman said: “Vegetation management is an essential part of railway maintenance and this work is crucial to keeping both trains and passengers safe on the network.”

But Green Councillor for Goldsmid Ward Marianna Ebel said the trees should be kept in place. She said: “Network Rail’s stated case for the works is to prevent the structure of the railway sidings from collapse.

“I have been shocked that little notice was given to residents which has prevented them obtaining information, such as which of the trees and bushes will be removed.

“The trees provide a natural buffer between the residents’ properties and the railway tracks, enhancing privacy and reducing noise.

“The works will destroy a huge amount of the local biodiversity, particularly the insect habitat which in turn supports many species of birds.

“I have asked Network Rail which trees and other vegetation they are planning to remove. I have also asked what measures Network Rail has put in place to protect the wildlife inhabiting the trees and bushes near the train tracks.

“As the Green Party councillor for this neighbourhood I strongly oppose the works being carried out without proper consultation with the local residents and without robust measures in place to protect the local wildlife.

“We are facing a climate crisis.

“Felling trees and destroying urban wildlife will further exacerbate this situation. I call on Network Rail to urgently rethink their approach to the planned works.”