Yesterday 1st March, Save Southwark Woods became a formal party in Church proceedings into Southwark Council's applications to fell hundreds of trees and mound over graves at Southwark owned and managed Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries.
SSW campaigners delivered their outline objections to the Diocese of Southwark.
They then walked down Tooley Street to serve objections on Southwark Council's Parks Manager Rebecca Towers, officer responsible for the proposals.
Southwark Council had to apply for Church permission for work on consecrated ground, to fell hundreds of trees and mound over 48,000 graves at Area Z Camberwell Old Cemetery and fell as many as 60 trees on historic One Tree Hill Area D1 at Camberwell New Cemetery.
The Diocese of Southwark received more than 800 individual objections so a hearing is to be held to decide on Southwark's unpopular and controversial plans later in the spring.
But on 1st February, without waiting for Church permission, Southwark Council began felling at the Old Cemetery.
Two acres of beautiful woods have been stripped bare to the earth, with no resemblance to its abundance this time last year, when snowdrops were soon to be followed by wild primroses and wood violets.
It now looks like a ploughed field. This despite Southwark claims that their plans would "preserve and even enhance existing biodiversity and ecology".
Goodness knows what has happened to the wild pear or the rare wild onion plant recorded on the site last summer, let alone the bats, woodpeckers, wrens and the myriad of other species for whom this sacred place was home. Owls never before seen in neighbouring gardens have been hooting all night.
Southwark Council has always downplayed the extent and scale of work proposed, calling the felling of hundreds of trees, to be followed by excavating 12,000 tonnes of soil and rubble 'landscaping and remodelling'.
But photos before and after show the true devastation.
"Taking part in legal proceedings can be risky," said Save Southwark Woods spokesperson Blanche Cameron. "Many people contacted us saying they'd like to take their objections further but were worried about costs."
"Save Southwark Woods is proud to represent so many people who have objected to the Council's destructive plans.
"No local authority should feel they can get away with whatever they want without any fear of challenge. They don't have the proper legal permissions and they don't have a mandate from their residents.
"This is urban deforestation in an age when we know how important woods and trees are to us and to nature and for the climate challenges cities are facing. London is a highly polluted city and these woods are in an Air Quality Management Area.
We need to respect the graves of thse buried here and their families, as their history helps us understand our own lives and deaths.
"We hope the Church will do the right thing and reject Southwark Council's applications - and force them to reinstate the beautiful woods they have taken without permission.
"Felling acres of trees hurts our children, it hurts nature and it hurts us. We won't stand for it."
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | [email protected] | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
Watch the video of the latest destruction of woods at Area Z Camberwell Old Cemetery
by Southwark Council
Below: More graves on Area Z at risk, as Council works continue without Church permission.
Download Save Southwark Woods' objections to the Church:
Below: Area Z woods at Camberwell Old Cemetery after and before felling hundreds of trees