Today, Save Southwark Woods has again demanded Southwark Council stop the madness of cutting down inner city woods to bury people.
Southwark Council is to fell as many as 60 trees for 145 new graves, nine months burial, on historic One Tree Hill in the latest stage of their brutal Super Cemeteries project - the largest grave ‘reuse’ and grave mounding project in UK history.
Work could start any day now on this rare and historic virgin wooded hillside at Camberwell New Cemetery in Honor Oak, although the Council is supposed to wait for permission from the Church as it is consecrated ground.
That didn’t stop them at Camberwell Old Cemetery where Southwark already clear felled two acres of woods in February without permission from the Church, to mound over 48,000 graves for new burial.
The entire project is costing more than it will ever provide - environmentally, socially and financially.
One Tree Hill is a rare and historic wooded hillside with bat roosts and native broadleaf woodland next to One Tree Hill Local Nature Reserve. Felling 60 trees and building roads will cost more than a quarter of a million pounds - and scar this area of the hillside for generations.
Southwark also want to remove dozens of memorials of London’s poor for a road over the graves. The Council won’t have to notify the families as these are ‘only’ public graves.
The hillside burial area is on a one-in-seven gradient - so steep the new road needs a switchback just to get hearses and cars up there. The Council admits the site discriminates against wheelchair users and the infirm. And the hillside is thick London clay, turning slippery in the rain.
All this for for just nine months of burial.
“Under the mantra of ‘local burial for local people’ Leader Peter John and Southwark are destroying local people’s graves for resale,” said Blanche Cameron, spokesperson of Save Southwark Woods. “It’s ‘Year Zero’ in Southwark - as though the past never existed and the woods had never been there. Every possible inch of the cemeteries is to be dug up and reused.”
First the Council are mounding over poor people’s graves in both Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries. Then they are cutting down woods for burial on One Tree Hill. Finally, they will be digging up all graves over 75 years for new burial plots.
“They are keeping quiet about this “reuse” of graves because they have to apply to Parliament for a change of law,” continued Save Southwark Woods spokesperson Blanche Cameron. “We have been contacted by local families horrified by the Council’s disrespect for the dead and their brutal development plans.”
“We are concerned people are already paying for private graves where their loved ones are to be buried over other people. Is the Council telling families before selling them a plot? I am sure many of them would be equally horrified.”
“When you have to cut down a wood to bury on a one-in-seven slope you know these cemeteries are full. They should be declared nature reserves, like Highgate and Nunhead Cemeteries. Respect for the dead and their families, with woods, meadows and recreation areas for all.”
More than 10,000 people so far have signed a petition against the scheme, including 3,500 Southwark residents more than 1,500 of whom are in Peckham Rye Ward where Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries lie. Southwark’s planning department received over 1,600 individual objections to plans for the two cemeteries.
Save Southwark Woods will continue to fight to stop Southwark’s Super Cemeteries, and protect the woods and the graves as Local Nature reserves for generations to come.
Save Southwark Woods
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
The threatened virgin woodland and graves on historic One Tree Hill Camberwell New Cemetery