The British government has admitted its plan to construct a new super-speed railway network will require the demolition of an historic cemetery and the reburial of an unprecedented number of corpses.
St. James Gardens, in Camden, north London, which has served as a burial ground since 1788, would be severely affected by the government’s redevelopment plan for Euston train station.
The construction works for the High Speed 2 (HS2) project require the excavation and reburial of at least 60,000 corpses.
The Conservative government confirmed the news in an answer to a written question submitted by Tory peer Lord Framlingham, an outspoken critic of HS2, who has branded the project a “ridiculous waste of time.”
Transport Minister Lord Callanan insisted that “all human remains affected by HS2 will be afforded due dignity, care and respect.”
“The St. James Gardens burial ground was assessed as part of the environmental impact assessment for the project. Information was presented in the Environmental Statement that was submitted to Parliament in support the passage of the bill through the House of Commons and House of Lords select committees respectively.
“Since then, further research has been undertaken into the history and development of the St. James burial ground to inform the development of design,” he added.
“Archival material relating to the burial ground includes burial records, plans of the layout of the ground, land transfer agreements, newspapers and letters.”
Although St. James Gardens is now a public park with a tennis court, and few of the original gravestones remain, critics of the HS2 project say the site is historically important as it hosts the body of Lord George Gordon, who led the Gordon Riots in the 18th century.
HS2 is a massive railway project that aims to connect London with Birmingham and then Manchester and Leeds through modern high-speed trains traveling at 250 miles per hour.
The network is due to launch in 2026 and will provide 15,000 new seats every hour for transit between the British capital and the three cities.
However, the project remains deeply controversial due to its high costs as well as the detrimental impact critics say it will have on the environment.