Save Southwark Woods campaigners are nervously awaiting a decision by the Church of England on applications by Southwark Council to cut down acres of woods for inner city burial.
The decision by the Diocese of Southwark’s Consistory Court is expected on or around September 26th, this Monday.
The Court’s Chancellor Philip Petchey will decide either to preserve acres of Grade 1 SINC woods and tens of thousands of public graves, or allow the felling, for Southwark to sell ‘new’ burial plots over the graves of 48,000 people buried there.
If the Church Court approves their application, Southwark Council will resume cutting down hundreds of trees in Underhill Road Wood in East Dulwich and on the side of One Tree Hill in Honor Oak.
Over the last hundred years, more than twelve acres of woods, thousands of trees, have grown on Church-consecrated areas of Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries. These woods are now Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation, havens for nature and people.
To cut down the SINC woods, Southwark Council had to ask the Church for planning permission - called “faculty”. But Southwark didn’t wait for the Church’s permission to begin tree cutting.
They cleared two acres of woods in February without Church permission, to get the trees cut down before nesting season began, which would have forced them to stop.
Now the trees are down, at best the Church can only require Southwark to replant the hundreds of trees they have felled, including many mature trees.
But it doesn’t end there. Next, with London’s air pollution at its worst ever, Southwark wants to cut down ten more acres of SINC woods.
Thousands of residents and family members as well as public figures have written to object to Southwark’s destruction and over 11,000 have signed online and paper petitions.
The Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries are calling on the Church of England to protect these beautiful woods - God’s Creation - and the tens of thousands of Londoners buried in consecrated ground beneath their roots.
The Save Southwark Woods campaign by the Friends Group is seeking an end to inner London burials. Campaigners are calling on the Mayor to protect London’s cemeteries as Memorial Park Nature Reserves for Londoners’ health and wellbeing, in what could soon be the world’s first National Park City.
Chair, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries
The Save Southwark Woods Campaign
07731 304 966
Facebook: Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries - Save Southwark Woods
Write to Sadiq Khan to stop the deforestation of polluted inner London
Save the Heritage and Beauty of Britain's Cemeteries
Sign the petition to save Southwark Woods
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | @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
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 and trees for the living.
Above: Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries demonstrating outside Southwark Cathedral before the Consistory Court directions hearing in May
Below: The vandalism of nature begins. Two acres of Grade 1 SINC woods felled in February at Camberwell Old Cemetery, and some of the beautiful ten acres of woods, graves and memorials still under threat from Southwark's chainsaws and diggers