Campaigners are battling to save trees they describe as "a natural monument of our strength and resilience" from the axe.

Network Rail says five trees are affected by repair and engineering works at the Downs Park Road bridge and tunnel in Hackney Downs, and it is set to remove four of them and cut back one by the end of February.

But people living on the nearby Pembury Estate have launched the Save Pembury Trees campaign and petition that has gathered almost 800 signatures.

The trees include a 100-year-old sycamore believed to have survived a Second World War air raid.

A spokesperson for the group said: “All of these trees hold great significance to the community.

“They are a symbol, a natural monument of our strength and resilience. They tell a story and hold our history.”

Householders on the estate say the loss of the trees will increase noise pollution from the railway and nearby roads, air pollution, and increase the risk of flooding, as well as reducing shade and privacy.

Campaigners said they appreciate the works are “necessary and important” for safety, but felt they received “conflicting information” from housing association Peabody and Network Rail, and “very little” information from Hackney Council.

They claim they had no prior communication from Peabody or Network Rail over the felling.

When the work takes place, a temporary footpath is expected to run across the lawn on the estate, close to bedroom and living room windows, which one resident fears will cause a “loss of privacy”.

They added residents were being “railroaded”, and said the campaign would “keep pushing ahead”.

Network Rail said it is aware of residents’ concerns.

Kate Snowden, head of communication for Network Rail Anglia, said it had worked “closely” with the council and Peabody for “many months” to keep residents informed.

She said the road bridge at the entrance to the Hackney Downs tunnel needed to be replaced, and the five trees were either in the way or had damaged the tunnel.

She claimed carrying out the repairs now will avoid any unplanned road or rail closures, adding: “We are seeking to minimise the number of trees affected by our work and to agree a replanting scheme once the work has been completed later this year.”

A spokesperson for Peabody said it had appointed an independent surveyor to establish the work was necessary, and had communicated with residents.

Cllr Mete Coban, Hackney Council cabinet member for climate change, environment and transport, said: “While understanding this is part of important safety work being carried out by Network Rail in the area, we want to ensure that it fits in with our commitment to protect and enhance the borough’s environment.

“We will be writing to Network Rail to raise our concerns and will also highlight those of the residents to see if there is a way of mitigating the issues raised whilst still being able to achieve the same outcomes.”