Save Southwark Woods

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Council burial plans are Southwark’s ‘Third Runway’

26 January 2016

Anger as Southwark starts cutting down beautiful Camberwell Old Cemetery woods – historic wooded One Tree Hill is next.

Desperate Council starts largest mass excavation and burial mounding program in UK history – before Church gives go-ahead.

We meet with Church on Wednesday, after a year of asking. Not a word from local Labour MP Harriet Harman. All Southwark Labour councillors support the ecocide and heritage ‘cleansing’.

But 10,000 support call to save the woods and turn the cemeteries into Nature Reserves – and numbers keep growing. More than 1,000 in Peckham Rye Ward alone.

Save Southwark Woods delayed the council a year – warns them that this misguided project is “Southwark’s Third Runway”

First ever call for deliberate rewilding of cemeteries – for nature, climate change, air pollution, flood control and protection of heritage.

Today, there was sadness as Southwark started works to cut down beautiful Camberwell Old Cemetery woods. Camberwell New Cemetery on historic wooded One Tree Hill is next to go.

These first works are part of the largest mass extinction of graves in British history, involving the digging up or mounding over of every grave over 75 years old in both cemeteries.

Southwark Council notice saying they have started works
NOTICE: Southwark Council say they have started works – and claim they don’t need Church permission – even though the Church say they do.

The council was so desperate to start cutting down trees before people noticed the birds are nesting, they started the work before the Diocese of Southwark, Church of England, had even given the go-ahead.

Either Council Leader Peter John assumed the Diocese would pass his plans or he decided to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. After all, ‘his’ Council authorised cutting down Camberwell Orchard – the day before the public meeting to decide its fate.

Save Southwark Woods campaign representatives are to meet with the Diocese of Southwark on Wednesday after a year of asking. But not a word has come from local MP Harriet Harman despite more than 12 months of letters and requests to meet. Not even an explanation as to why she would not comment.

All Southwark Labour Councillors support the ecocide and heritage ‘cleansing’ plans, stating local burial is needed for local people. But the graves of local people will be dug up or mounded over to create the “new” burial plots. And the new plots cannot be used by almost half of Southwark’s residents who seek burial. At present, 73% of Southwark’s dead are cremated.

The Council has agreed to write off £5M capital spending on their plans, while essential services like youth protection schemes and elderly care provision are decimated.

10,000 people – including over 1,000 in local Peckham Rye Ward alone – support the call to save the woods and turn the cemeteries into Nature Reserves – and the numbers keep growing. Over 1,000 objections were sent to the planning committee in October and over 700 to the Church in November and December – and more are coming in each day.

Below: Area Z woods, trees and graves at Camberwell Old Cemetery

A year ago, local residents didn’t know of Southwark’s plans.Now people are gradually learning – despite the Council’s denials – of Southwark’s intentions to dig up or mound over every grave over 75 years old in the Camberwell Cemeteries and fell over 10 acres of woods for NCP Carpark-style burial plots.

“We are sad that we are about to lose the trees and people’s history and heritage in this first phase of Southwark’s unprecedented plans for destruction. But we are proud that Save Southwark Woods and the people of Southwark and London have delayed the Council a year.” said Blanche Cameron, SSW spokesperson.

“Leader Peter John knows we are not going away and their next steps will not be as easy. This misguided project is now Southwark’s ‘Third Runway’. It will be stopped.”

Around the world, governments and local politicians are radically changing the way we manage cities to protect people in an uncertain era of climate change and the unprecedented and frighteningly rapid loss of biodiversity, our natural life support system.

Save Southwark Woods is calling for Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries to be left to grow wild, creating the first ever deliberate rewilding of cemeteries – for nature, for health, for climate change, air pollution and flood control, for protection of heritage – and for the future.