Southwark is creating Super Cemeteries for London.
The inner city Borough is in the middle of the largest project in UK history to excavate and mound over graves.
If completed, the project will see more than 12 acres of woods in a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation destroyed, all graves over 75 years old dug up and every public grave with hundreds of thousands of London's dead poor mounded over for thousands of 'new' private burial plots for sale.
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | [email protected] | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
Last February Council Leader Peter John stated: "If we start reusing grave space as other cemeteries are doing, this is potentially a long-term answer to the problem of London running out of grave space." (24th February 2015, BBC London Radio)
But John's vision for Southwark's Super Cemeteries goes far beyond reusing a few grave plots.
The latest 2.5 acres of woods on consecrated and unconsecrated land, so-called Area Z at Camberwell Old Cemetery, have been felled without Church permission. 740 sterile NCP Carpark burial plots are coming, over six Commonwealth War Grave areas and the unmarked remains of 48,000 of London's dead poor. That is just in one area.
The next to go is half an acre of native broadleaf woodland on historic One Tree Hill in Camberwell New Cemetery (so-called Area D1) with the loss of up to 60 trees.
Then the remaining 10 acres of beautiful wild woods in Camberwell Old Cemetery (Areas H1, H2, J, K and L) are to be cut down.
See Southwark’s Cemetery Strategy here:
The destruction of Area Z is only the latest in Southwark's 'Super Cemeteries' scheme which the Council for obvious reasons has tried hard to keep quiet - even calling SSW 'liars' as we informed people about it and Councillor Darren Merrill denying having plans to dig up graves on ITV News in January (see previous SSW news items.)
Southwark's programme of social cleansing doesn't stop just because someone's dead.
In 2013 on the Woodvale boundary of Camberwell Old Cemetery, ancient hawthorn hedgerows and meadows were ripped out and tens of thousands of poor in unmarked graves mounded over, for 'new' burial plots.
These are now waterlogged plots crammed in cheek by jowl, without privacy or space over the remains of the dead poor below.
It's Year Zero in Peter John's Southwark. No need for history or nature or people's health from the nature and the graves. The memorials, remains and family history of tens of thousands of people? Woods, trees, thickets and glades full of oak, ash, hawthorn and wild pear, hornbeam, holly and yew? Bats, owls, stag beetles, undergrowth and scrub buzzing with insects and other life? In the way! Get it cleared! Sell off the plots and get the cash coming in!
“Southwark's Super Cemeteries project is to excavate every grave over 75 years old and mound over every public grave to sell private burial plots to anyone in London,” said Blanche Cameron, spokesperson for Save Southwark Woods.
“This isn’t about local burial for local people. Southwark’s own 2012 Cemetery Strategy highlights the opportunity to profit from burial to people from other boroughs. They can charge three times the price. Any Londoner who can afford it can have a plot.
“More than 10,000 people, including Bianca Jagger President and CEO of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Zac Goldsmith MP, Cllr Sian Berry and Caroline Pidgeon AM are demanding this appalling project stop now. Even Labour ex-Deputy Leader Harriet Harman the local MP has advised Southwark Council to stop, because of the risk of flooding from removing the woods. But their destruction continues.
"Council Leader Peter John and the Southwark Councillors who voted against the petition from over 3,500 of their own residents including the Friends of Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries should be ashamed.”
The Diocese of Southwark’s Consistory Court is due to investigate Southwark's project for Area Z and D1 in a hearing in late spring, to give or refuse permission. But the chainsaws and diggers at Area Z have already done their damage.
While there's profit to be made from burial from Boroughs across London, Southwark Council will destroy the nature and history of the Camberwell Cemeteries with impunity – unless someone steps in.
Save Southwark Woods isn't going away.
Watch the video of the latest destruction of Area Z.
Southwark Council 2012 Cemetery Strategy, page 3:
2.1.2 The Audit of London Burial Provision commissioned by the Greater London and undertaken by the Cemetery Research Group, University of York in March 2011 revealed that there are boroughs in all quarters of the capital where supply is deemed to be critical, and where demand is likely to be exhausted within the next ten years. Across London as a whole the potential land held in reserve (not all of which has planning consent for burial) might meet only around on fifth of the projected demand. Moreover the diminution of supply in boroughs currently deemed critical will displace demand to adjacent boroughs which might otherwise have met burial need for the next 10-20 years.
Watch the video of the latest destruction of woods at Area Z by Southwark Council
Protesters at the scene of Southwark's destruction this fortnight