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Southwark council leader Peter John yesterday called a Grade 1 Site of Importance for Nature Conservation ‘not beautiful’.

 

His idea to make it more ‘beautiful’ is to cut down trees and remove bushes and wildflowers, and put in 6,000 graves. “This is a pretty scrubby area,” said Cllr John.

 

Peter John was speaking to Paul Ross and Penny Smith on BCC London News, in response to calls by thousands of Southwark residents and other Londoners to stop the destruction of these woods and to have Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries in south London declared nature reserves.

 

“We think that the biodiversity of the area will be improved,” says Cllr John.

 

Save Southwark Woods spokesperson Blanche Cameron responded, “Southwark council can’t see the woods for the trees.”

 

“They are going to cut down dozens of trees to make it “beautiful”? Of course the council thinks nature is ugly – it’s in the way of them making money from burying London’s dead.”

 

Cllr John said, “I’ve seen images which suggest that this will be a pretty beautiful looking space for people to walk through.”

 

However, nationally acclaimed insect specialist and past president of the British Entomological and Natural History Society Richard Jones said, “I’ve looked at the plans Astroturf would be more biodiverse than a tended cemetery.”

 

Save Southwark Woods’ campaign is to protect these woodlands and to create a 100 Acre Wood of nature reserves for South London.

 

“These plans only provide for 15 years of burial space," said Blanche Cameron. "Southwark has a fantastic opportunity, to provide a legacy for generations to come of wild woodland and meadows right here in the heart of London.”

 

Camberwell Old and new Cemeteries lie between East Dulwich and Nunhead at the southern end of Southwark in south London.

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It’s fine to chop down the woods – they’re ugly!

27th February 2015

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