Fight to protect town cemetery from habitat destruction back on after unauthorized clearing resumes

A local cemetery loved for its array of wildlife is being ‘destroyed’ by overzealous and unauthorized tidying, neighbors claim. They say people are going into in Loughborough Cemetery, a conservation area, without permission and ripping away the plants, hedgerows and undergrowth that serve as homes to foxes, badgers, mice, bats and birds.


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Campaigners fighting to protect the cemetery’s flora and fauna first raised the issue after, around two years ago, a group of people had begun clearing away ivy and plants and severely trimming back bushes. And it seemed the problem had been laid to rest in May last year when Charnwood Borough Council issued a statement saying only authorized volunteers with the Friends of Loughborough Cemetery group could maintain the site.

However, Sarah Rate, who has lived next to the cemetery for almost 50 years, told Leicestershire Live the ‘destruction’ started once more after Christmas. She said: “It stopped for a while, but it started back up again just after Christmas and people were going in there and making a right mess.

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“The damage they’re doing is just unbelievable. And what they’re doing to the graves… If that were my family’s graves, I’d be going nuts. Leave people to rest in peace.

“They were just ripping up all the greenery and then they’re knocking all the gravestones down. There are beautiful animals in there, creatures, birds, butterflies, insects. It’s a bit of a haven for wildlife.

“There are not so many owls any more. Since they’ve been ripping up the bushes, I think a lot of the mammals haven’t got anywhere to live, so there are no owls because there aren’t so many mice.

“It looked amazing with all the wildflowers, some beautiful bushes. And these people have just gone in and hacked these bushes down and killed them. And it was tidy, they have to keep it tidy.”

Ms Rate said it was clear the group of around three people who had taken it upon themselves to clear the site were not part of the Friends of Loughborough Cemetery Group – which she praised for the great work it does. She said they worked separately to the group when they were all in the cemetery together and were not wearing the protective gear worn by the official volunteers.

She added she had reported her concerns to the council in March, but, despite email exchanges with officials, the unauthorized clearing was still going on. She said: “You get an email and think ‘give them a couple of weeks, they’re busy people’ but you get to a point, they’ve had since March and I’m fed up of waiting.



Graves are left with ivy growing over them to create natural habitats

“We need it stopping properly. We thought last year after a huge battle, we eventually got it stopped and it was great. We were hoping the Friends group would go back in and it would all be done properly without disturbing or killing off any wildlife.

“To see it start again is not good enough, there are generations who need to see what a 100-year-old cemetery with birds and wildlife looks like. We’re at a point where that is more important than ever because we’re losing it.

“There’s about three people, go and tell them to go home and not do what they’re doing. It’s heart-breaking to see what they’re doing and what they’re being allowed to do.”

A Charnwood Borough Council spokesperson said: “We would like to thank the Friends of Loughborough Cemetery who do an amazing job to help look after the site, alongside our contractor idverde.

“We need to balance the usage of the site as a cemetery and a place for plant and animal life. People visit the cemetery for reflection, so we need to keep it tidy. We also consider how to support the biodiversity there.

“A senior ecological officer has visited the cemetery and is happy with how the site is being positively managed. We are aware of concerns raised that some people may be helping to maintain the site under their own initiative. With that in mind, we will be organizing a meeting for local residents to understand any concerns and provide clarity on how we can work together to best manage the site.”

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