A "beautiful" row of trees is being felled in Great Missenden by HS2 - despite uproar and upset from residents.

Nearly 40,000 people signed a petition to stop HS2 felling "majestic" trees in Leather Lane, off the A413, but the work has started this week.

Vegetation clearance, including removing hedgerows and trees, is being carried out by HS2 over the next few weeks to allow for the realignment of Leather Lane, which will cross the controversial railway line on a new bridge slightly to the south of the existing road.

The site is just north of the Chiltern tunnel, where the line will be in a cutting on approach to the Wendover Dean viaduct.

A petition, set up by residents in Leather Lane and Potter Row, said many living in the area are "concerned that the nature of this ancient lane will be completely destroyed in a matter of weeks".

Jim Ashton, a resident in the area, has been documenting the process on his Twitter page.

In his latest video, posted just before 11.30am today, chainsaws can be heard in the background as HS2 and security teams and two Thames Valley Police officers stand by.

He blasted the tree-felling as "ecocide" and "vandalism", adding: "It's disgusting, I feel sick. We can't sleep... as long as I live I will be traumatised by this. I cannot comprehend what is going on."

The petition claims "at least 50 veteran oak trees" will be felled and that felling was to be carried out to accommodate a haul road and temporary construction compound - but HS2 was keen to point out that while there will be temporary compounds and a temporary access road, the trees have to go for the permanent railway line work.

An HS2 spokesman told the Bucks Free Press that work in the area is defined in the HS2 Act and the design always included the permanent realignment of Leather Lane due to the construction of the railway.

They said they were committed to "only remove vegetation that is necessary to construct and safely maintain the railway".

They added: "We always aim to minimise our impact on the community and environment as we build Britain’s new low-carbon railway.

"In this location, we need to permanently realign Leather Lane and build a new access road, which will reduce the number of lorries on local roads.

"We have designed our works to reduce the loss of trees, and we will be planting trees in the area to integrate the new road and railway into the surrounding landscape.

“The construction of HS2 is playing a vital role in Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19, with over 15,000 people already working on the project and tens of thousands of additional jobs supported through our supply chain.

"By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country’s push to reduce carbon emissions.”

Cllr Mike Johnstone, from Great Missenden Parish Council, posted an update that they and The Lee Parish Council had met with HS2 contractors EKFB on Friday to discuss the trees. 

It was decided that around 40 per cent of the affected trees would "definitely" need to be felled, while 30 per cent can be left in place. 

The remaining 30 per cent will be reviewed. 

He said: "The parish councils expressed a strong wish that, if possible, all of this remaining 30 per cent should also be reprieved, if necessary, by changing some of these design constraints and by integrating the oaks into the future tree-planting programme for this area.

"This more detailed review will take place over the next fortnight. Until then, only the trees directly on the line-of-route of the railway and the realigned Leather Lane with the internal access road, will be removed subject to ecological inspections."