Church calls for changes to HS2 bill to protect burial grounds

Photo: HS2/PA Wire
Photo: HS2/PA Wire
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HUMAN remains will not be treated “in a decent and reverent manner” if current plans for the construction of HS2 go ahead, the Church of England has warned,

The Archbishops’ Council, which is led by the archbishops of York and Canterbury, says there must be changes made to the current HS2 bill to give greater protection to remains which have to be exhumed along the route.

In a “humble petition” to the House of Commons, the Council says that works authorised by the Bill to bring in the project will involve the destruction of three Church of England burial grounds and the removal of human remains and monuments from them.

Provisions in the bill do not do enough to ensure that during and after the removal of remains they are treated in a decent and reverent manner or that they are subsequently reinterred in consecrated land, the petition says.

Nor do they ensure that any monuments that are removed are disposed of in a suitable manner, it adds.

The petition says: “This is inconsistent with the approach taken in other legislation which provides for the compulsory acquisition of land and its use for statutory purposes.”

A Church of England spokesperson said it was “not opposing HS2 per se,” but petitioning for changes to the bill.

The church said there will be “thousands” of exhumations, with a “significant number” at Euston, Stoke Mandeville and Birmingham.

A Department for Transport spokesman said that burial grounds had been avoided “as far as practicable.”

He added: “Though the affected burial sites at Euston, Stoke Mandeville and Birmingham have not been in use for more than 100 years, HS2 Ltd will ensure that the affected remains are treated with dignity, respect and care.”