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20th June 2016


Letter from Save Southwark Woods Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries to Mayor of Lewisham, Assembly Members, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan:


Dear Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock, AM for Lambeth and Southwark Florence Eshalomi, AM for Greenwich and Lewisham Len Duvall,


Southwark Council is cutting down acres of woods and trees for burial plots creating an appalling precedent – please act now


As the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, we appeal to you urgently for help.


Southwark Council is destroying 12 ACRES of woods for inner city burial. This year alone, Southwark Council has felled hundreds of trees across 2 ACRES of Grade 1 SINC woods on Metropolitan Open Land in Camberwell Old Cemetery.


Next, dozens of trees on One Tree Hill and on the Old Nursery site in Camberwell New Cemetery, Metropolitan Open Land on the Lewisham boundary, are to be cut down for a car park and more burial plots.


Southwark Council claim ‘only 18 trees’ have been cut down and have so far refused us access to the Old Cemetery site.


Just under 10,000 people die early every year in London from air pollution related illness and disease.


One acre of trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people annually. 12 acres of woods provide clean air for 216 people – as many as died in Southwark last year from air pollution.


If all 33 boroughs did what Southwark is doing, it would remove clean air for 7,128 people across London.


Cutting down London’s Urban Forest for burial plots should be decided by the Mayor, not the boroughs. It goes against the London Plan, the new Green Infrastructure Task Force Report and Mayor Khan’s commitment to protect and increase trees for health and air quality.


More than 11,000 people so far have signed a petition to make the Camberwell Cemeteries Nature Reserves.


This is not just a Southwark or Lewisham issue. Proposals exist to replicate Southwark’s actions across London. Destroying acres of woods for inner city burial sets a horrific national precedent.


This is the national test case for all UK cemeteries


We cannot afford to cut down acres of woods and trees in polluted inner London in the 21st Century. We know better. We expect better from our politicians. Constituency MP Harriet Harman has failed to respond to any of our emails.


We therefore appeal to you for your urgent help:


Will you ask Southwark Council to stop the destruction of woods, trees, nature and graves for burial plots?


Will you ask Mayor Sadiq Khan to intervene and stop Southwark felling trees pending investigation by the Mayor’s Office and/or the GLA?


Will you meet with us so we can explain the public anger at what Southwark Council is doing and positive alternatives for the borough?


We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.




Blanche Cameron

Chair, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, Save Southwark Woods



SSW appeals to Mayor and Assembly Members as Southwark targets Metropolitan Open Land in never-ending burial land grab 20th June 2016    |    |    @southwarkwoods    |    Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods


Today, the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries have appealed to the Mayor of Lewisham, London Assembly Members and the Mayor of London: ‘save our trees’.


Southwark Council is destroying acres of woods and trees – for the sake of inner city burial.


Now they are grabbing two acres of Metropolitan Open Land on the border of Lewisham. In an area that Lewisham residents use and value.


The site on the Lewisham border in Camberwell New Cemetery, Southwark’s old plant nursery, is just steps from Honor Oak Park station in crowded Zone 3.


Dozens of trees are to be felled for a carpark and 900 burial plots on a two metre high plinth for less than four years’ burial plots.


The site was promised for community use in the ‘90s but has lain derelict ever since.

Camberwell New Cemetery also includes part of One Tree Hill, Honor Oak Recreation Ground and One Tree Hill Allotments.


Stress, air pollution-related disease and obesity are at crisis levels in London. To residents and campaigners, developing MOL for dead burial space is mindless irresponsibility.


This is not just a Southwark or Lewisham issue. Proposals exist to replicate Southwark’s actions across London. This is the national test case for all UK cemeteries.  


Campaigners are calling for the Camberwell Cemeteries to be declared Nature Reserves like Highgate and Nunhead Cemeteries.


“Imagine every London borough did this?” said Chair of Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries Blanche Cameron. “We would lose hundreds of acres of woods and meadows to NCP Carpark-style burial.”


“We are appealing to the Mayor of Lewisham as it affects his residents too, and to London Assembly Members and of course to Mayor Sadiq Khan.”


“Someone has to stop Southwark’s destruction.”


Today SSW has written to local Lewisham Councillors to stop the destruction, to save London’s urban forest - and support the health of the people of London.


Their letter is below.





For more information contact:

Save Southwark Wood – Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries

Save the Heritage and Beauty of Britain's Cemeteries 

The next two acres to go - dozens of trees on Metropolitan Open Land on the Lewisham border for carpark and burial plots, Camberwell New Cemetery