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Plans just received by the Save Southwark Woods campaign reveal that Southwark council knows exactly which trees it is planning to chainsaw, for up to 4800 burial plots in Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries, the Southwark Woods – and it could be in the hundreds.
The plans, from 2013, reveal the council's true intention for a chainsaw massacre. In one small area alone of Camberwell New Cemetery (so-called ‘Area D1’ up on One Tree Hill), over sixty trees have been earmarked for destruction, and the council hopes to start as soon as possible.
Community campaigners have been asking the council for detailed tree felling plans for months. Until now Southwark has only admitted to wanting to fell ‘about 30 trees’ and has promised that plans would be based on up to date Biodiversity surveys.
However, in this small area alone, they plan to fell an appalling 60 trees, including 25 oaks, 18 ash trees and a horse chestnut (see attached plan). This is only a small proportion of the council’s overall plans, all of which have been drawn up without reference to relevant Biodiversity, Habitat, Bat or Bird surveys, without planning permission from the Church of England and without formal consultation with the residents of Southwark.
Campaigners now believe that the total number of trees under threat across the two cemeteries could be in the hundreds. This is what the council is calling its ‘sustainable strategy’ – to clear woodlands and dig up old graves, to make way for thousands of new burial plots.
“This area is called Honor Oak for a reason,” said local resident and SSW campaigner Lewis Schaffer today. “This was the ancient Great North Wood, filled with oaks and other native broadleaf trees. Now only remnants like One Tree Hill and Sydenham Woods remain.”
“The council claims that it wants to make these cemeteries more biodiverse, and yet this wanton destruction is being formulated without reference to any surveys that would show all the wonderful nature that already exists here. It is nothing short of environmental vandalism.”
The community campaign is supported by thousands of Southwark residents via online and paper petitions. Campaigners recently nominated Southwark Woods as Assets of Community Value, under the Localism Act of 2011, to demonstrate their value to local communities.
“These beautiful woodlands and wild green spaces are essential to our communities, for access to wild nature, health and well-being, for reflection, play and education, air quality and summer cooling,” said Kate Slattery, local resident and SSW spokesperson.
Thousands are now asking Southwark council to declare all of Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries nature reserves, with respect for the dead and their memorials, and woodland for the living.
Southwark Council "finds" the plans to cut down Southwark Woods
2nd May 2015