Save Southwark Woods campaigners protested yesterday, Sunday, on historic One Tree Hill, ahead of Southwark cutting down dozens of trees for burial plots.
Over 30 residents met under the Oaks and the Ashes to be felled, to say “NO!” to cutting down trees and digging up the dead.
Southwark Council is waiting for the Diocese of Southwark to agree plans for One Tree Hill which would see as many as 60 trees cut down on the steep historic hillside, for burial plots.
Southwark is in the middle of the largest grave ‘re-use’ project in the country – the test case for all municipal cemeteries. Felling trees on One Tree Hill is to buy time until Southwark can start the gruesome exhumation of graves for re-sale.
The Council expects to receive Church of England approval within the week.
No more Rest in Peace. The ‘new’ graves are only temporary, as little as 75 years, and most will be shared burial over the remains of another family’s dead relatives below.
A Southwark Council survey released just last week shows that the vast majority of residents are dead against the use of any public land for burial. 76% of local residents rejected Council plans to use a 3-acre brownfield site by Honor Oak Park station for burial.
Residents asked instead for woods, nature reserves, natural green space on the site - not more burial plots.
“Imagine if residents had been surveyed about cutting down dozens of trees on magnificent One Tree Hill? Or clearing the two acres of woods Southwark felled against huge public opposition in February?” says Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries Chair, Blanche Cameron.
“Councillors don’t want to back down. If they did, they would have to admit that, for twenty years, they haven’t planned for anything than clearing woods and green space and digging up graves. Cemetery space exists on the edge of the city for burial for all. But Southwark appears incapable of admitting they have made a mistake.
“Residents don’t want the Council to dig up the dead and destroy people’s heritage and family history, relatives’ graves and beautiful, valuable inner city woods.
"For what? For burial plots that few if any would want if they knew. Shame on Southwark.”
Southwark Diocese’s decision is to be published soon.
Watch out. If the Church grants approval, Southwark’s chainsaws could be on their way to One Tree Hill within weeks.
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | [email protected] | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
In a nutshell:
Trees, woods and green spaces are too valuable to be used for burial plots - we need more woods and trees not less, for health and well-being and climate change adaptation
History and heritage are vital to our understanding of ourselves, our past and our future
Burial over the dead is not an option for many - and discriminates against many residents' burial needs. Plot buyers are not being told 'new' graves are over the dead
The history and heritage of those buried and their families must be respected and preserved
Fair burial provision is available on the edge of the city at a fraction of the environmental, financial and social cost
Save our woods and graves and make them Memorial Park Nature Reserves, with respect for the dead and history, woods, allotments, playing fields and trees for the living.
Above: People came Sunday to the side of One Tree Hill that sits within Camberwell New Cemetery to protest against Southwark's plans to cut down up to 60 trees for less than a year of burial plots. This is an incredibly steep, historic hillside, virgin woodland 20 feet from One Tree Hill Nature Reserve - woodland of the same biodiversity on just the other side of the fence.
Below: Two acres of Grade 1 SINC woods at Camberwell Old Cemetery cleared in February. The Friends of Camberwell Cemetries are working to make the cemeteries - 100 acres of woods, graves, nature, history, allotments, playing fields and meadows - protected as Memorial Park Nature Reserves for all.
Below: Some of the ten acres of beautiful Grade 1 SINC woods still to be cleared - or saved - by Southwark Council.
Southwark's own survey of residents summer 2016 about using a 3 acre brownfield site for burial plots shows vast majority - 76% - totally opposed to the use of public land for burial and are asking for woods, nature reserves, natural green space.
Another 17% were unhappy with some aspect of Southwark's plans for the site. Only 4% supported Southwark Council's plans.
Download the report below.