Southwark officials have admitted they could not say exactly how many trees are to be cut down on historic One Tree Hill for 145 burial plots.
At a meeting of the Southwark Cemetery Stakeholder Group on Saturday, one official stated 26 trees were to go. But when pressed, they could not confirm this figure - only days before felling is due to start.
The community members of the Stakeholder Group voted unanimously to reject Southwark Council's unfeasible and destructive proposals for the Glade, known as Area D1, on One Tree Hill.
Southwark Council gave itself permission over a year ago to lay tarmac access up historic One Tree Hill over people’s graves and fell as many as 60 trees - for 145 burial plots. It is now only waiting for the Church of England to give the go-ahead.
The destruction of the peace and beauty of the wooded glade, a Grade 1 Site of Importance for Nature Conservation with one of the best views in London, is due to cost over a quarter of a million pounds.
But the loss of the trees on this one-in-four hillside is likely to worsen existing flooding across the cemetery and to houses in the streets below. People want to know the facts.
Yet Southwark Council appear ignorant of the detail of their own proposals.
“Southwark’s landscape architect Paul Harrison said we had been shown all the trees to be cut down, during the site visit,” said the Chair of Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, Blanche Cameron.
“But that’s not the same as being able to give accurate figures. Although Mr Harrison himself designed the scheme, he could not say, more than a year after planning permission, with the plans in front of him and with works about to start, how many trees are to be cut down. We are really shocked.”
Urban woods and forests help manage flooding, improve air quality and health and give essential space to nature. These benefits are known as ecosystem services - the free help we get from nature but which has huge economic, social and environmental value.
This historic site on One Tree Hill has hedgehog colonies, bats, owls and many other rare species living, feeding and breeding here.
“During the planning application process, residents were told various figures for tree felling. If residents have been misled, we need to know. It’s incredible this information is not available. The Council say they will find out but surely they should know by now whether the information they gave people during planning was accurate or not?” said Blanche Cameron.
“This is an emergency. The felling is about to start. This senseless destruction for inner city burial plots must stop. We are against the removal of any trees at all on this site for anything other than health and safety at the moment – a full investigation must be carried out into this pointless and destructive project.”
The Church of England is due to make its decision on Southwark’s proposals any day now.
But if Southwark Council cannot give accurate information to its own Cemetery Stakeholder Group, has the Church been given all the facts either? And is the so-called Cemetery Stakeholder Group just a smokescreen, and a waste of time and tax payers’ money?
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
Above: The Grade 1 SINC wood area on historic One Tree Hill where Southwark want to put 145 burial plots, requiring a long switchback tarmac access to reach it. Thousands of residents are against Southwark's plans.