Former deputy leader of the Labour party Harriet Harman MP and Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith MP have written to Southwark Council to protest about the destruction of trees and woods in Camberwell Old Cemetery.
Harman, who is MP for Camberwell and Peckham and Zac Goldsmith, who represents Richmond Park and North Kingston have backed protestors who are calling for Southwark Council to stop felling trees.
Members of the Save Southwark Woods campaign have held funerals for the 10 mature trees already felled by the council as well as chaining themselves to council machinery in an attempt to stop the destruction.
In a letter to Southwark Councillor Darren Merrill, Harriet Harman appears to support the concerns of protestors that the council has not followed the proper procedures before taking action.
Ms Harman says: “it would be wise to await any further report, including report from an independent expert before clearing any further trees or shrubs.”
The MP says the work on clearing trees should not have happened before the completion of a full drainage report on the site. She also questions whether the council has full planning permission for the tree felling – saying the application did not make clear exactly how many trees were to be felled.
Environmentalist and Conservative Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith has also urged Southwark Council to stop destroying mature trees in Camberwell Old Cemetery.
He has called on Mayor of London Boris Johnson to intervene to prevent further destruction of woodland.
He says: “I am appalled at Southwark Councils decision to start the felling of trees at Camberwell Old Cemetery without taking into account the views of the local community and the Diocese who are strongly opposed.
“As candidate for Mayor of London I have supported the campaign to Save Southwark Woods which is one of London’s most historic and valuable green spaces.
“Given London’s growing population I understand the need to provide more grave spaces in London but it would be a terrible mistake to lose what has become a much loved nature reserve in this old cemetery and I strongly urge Southwark Council to think again.”
On Monday, Southwark Council began felling trees and clearing undergrowth at Area Z Camberwell Old Cemetery. This rarest of urban landscapes, two acres of natural Grade 1 SINC woodland, is vital for local flooding defence, good air quality, wild nature and a myriad of other services vital to people’s health, well-being and security.
Southwark Council says it wants to create 700 burial plots over the graves of 48,000 of London’s poor and Commonwealth War Graves.
But residents on Ryedale Road below the woods have been flooded by the waterlogged Camberwell Old Cemetery before as its sloping woodland sits on a thick layer of clay. Campaigners and residents are very concerned that the removal of hundreds of trees and undergrowth currently absorbing thousands of gallons of rainwater will increase flooding to their homes.
“We are delighted to have the backing of Harriet Harman and Zac Goldsmith,” said Blanche Cameron spokesperson for Save Southwark Woods. “The Green Party, Liberal Democrats and TUSC and most of the London Mayoral candidates also support the call.
“What happens next is for Southwark Council to stop work until the court hearing into their plans by the Diocese of Southwark in the late spring. They received an unprecedented 800 objections from local residents.
“As governments around the world call for the protection of vital natural habitats, Southwark Council and its Leader Peter John are rowing against the tide.”
You can email Harriet Harman and Zac Goldsmith, and also Mayor Boris Johnson, Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan and his environment advisor Murad Qureshi to intervene and call for this outdated and destructive project to stop:
Please also support the Diocese of Southwark to intervene and request Southwark Council to stop work until their Consistory Court hearing into Southwark’s plans:
Diocesan Chancellor Philip Petchey
Do copy us in:
And sign the petition to save the graves and woods of the Camberwell Cemeteries
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
Funeral for the first Grade 1 SINC trees to be felled, 4th February 2015
Zac Goldsmith MP will request Boris Johnson intervene, 4th February
Letter from Harriet Harman MP to Southwark Council, 3rd February