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The Church of England has entered the row over a proposed high-speed railway link between London and the north of England, warning that its route will destroy three burial grounds.
In a petition to Parliament the Archbishops’ Council said that the line would destroy three consecrated burial grounds and that thousands of bodies would need to be exhumed from sites in London, Buckinghamshire and Birmingham.
The three sites it predicts will be affected are an eighteenth-century site in the parish of St Pancras in London; a twelfth-century ruin in Stoke Mandeville that was in use until 1905; and an eighteenth-century site at Park Street in Birmingham.
Kensal Green cemetery in London is also on the proposed route but will not be affected because the line will run underneath the site.
Humans buried in consecrated ground are under protection of the Church as a matter of law, the Church argued, adding: “Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray your Honourable House that the Bill may not be allowed to pass into law as it now stands.”
Other churches near the line have sent in their own petitions and the Church of England said it hoped to achieve better mitigation and compensation for these communities.
A spokesman for the Church of England said the Church did not oppose the HS2 bill, but was petitioning for a technical change that would prevent the thousands of exhumations.
The first phase of the HS2 bill will now pass to Committee stage for final amendments, before having a third reading and passing to the House of Lords.