There are normally very strict rules about digging up bodies from graveyards, but HS2 Ltd plan to bulldoze through them.
Among a number of petition from churches and church organisations, is one from the Archbishops’ Council. The Archbishops’ Council, which is led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York, says there must be changes to give greater protection to remains which have to be exhumed along the route.
The petition warns that current plans for constructing the line mean that graves will be desecrated and human remains will not be treated “in a decent and reverent manner”.
The Archbishops’ Council, s there must be changes to give greater protection to remains which have to be exhumed along the route.
The Council’s petition says that works authorised by the Bill to bring in the project will involve the destruction of three burial grounds consecrated for the burial of the dead in accordance with the rites of the Church of England and the removal of human remains and monuments from them.
The petition says
“The provisions of Clause 26 and Schedule 19 do not make adequate provision to ensure that during and after the removal of human remains they are treated in a decent and reverent manner or that they are subsequently reinterred in consecrated land. Nor do they make adequate provision to ensure that any monuments that are removed are disposed of in a suitable manner”.
They point out that the HS2 Hybrid Bill is different to other Acts such as the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act, the Civil Aviation Act 1982, the Housing and Regeneration Act 2003 and the Localism Act 2011, in it’s treatment of human remains.
The petition goes onto to say this is
“…contrary to general legal principle. It also fails to strike a proportionate balance between the rights of the Church of England to manifest its religion or belief, in practice and observance in relation to the dead, and the general needs of the community that are to be met by the works for which the Bill provides”.
The main burial grounds that will be disturbed are
- Euston St James Gardens, London, to be cleared (actually in St Pancras parish), 18th-19th century.
- Kensal Green cemetery London, tunnel underneath (so no exhumations).
- Stoke Mandeville St Mary old church, Bucks / Oxford, to be cleared (a ruin, with burial ground probably 12th century to 1905)
- Park Street / Curzon interchange, Birmingham 18th-19th century, to be cleared.
Individual churches near the line are opposing the Bill and have sent in their own petitions.Reasons for their petitions include noise and disturbance to church services and for access to the church, as well as the effects on the local area and on their congregations.