'Green' burial ground featuring wildflower meadow and orchard could be created in York

A new environmentally-friendly graveyard could be created in Yorkshire.

The plans have been submited for a field north of Murton Way in Osbaldwick

Plans have been submitted for a green burial ground – which would feature a wildflower meadow and orchard – to be created on a field north of Murton Way in Osbaldwick, near York.

Burial space for residents living in the area is likely to run out within three years, according to Osbaldwick Parish Council and Murton Parish Council, who have submitted the plans.

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Green funerals forbid the marking of a grave site with a memorial or tending to the plot, reject cremation or embalming, see burials take place at a site with a conservation purpose and at a ground which does not look like a graveyard, and require a coffin or shroud made from natural materials.

The parish councils’ application says: “St Thomas’s Church in Osbaldwick has been a ‘closed churchyard’ for many years now and St James’s Church in Murton will likely within three years reach capacity for internments leaving no local burial ground for parishioners within the Osbaldwick or Murton parish areas.”

The planned burial ground is currently a 9.15-acre field north of Murton Way and north east of Galligap Lane.

Hedgerows would be planted at the ground as soon as possible, as well as oak trees and a wildflower meadow. Families may also be able to plant trees alongside some burial plots.

The new green graveyard will be accessed from Murton Way by the existing farm gate, but the application says only one off-road parking space will be available because “given the nature of ‘green burials’ it is not desirable to have any associated parking areas”.

The application says: “Experience from other similar operations indicates that many ‘green’ funerals make a virtue of reducing the ecological impact of all aspects of the funeral process, including methods of transport.

“To maintain the discrete nature of the site it is not even thought necessary to sign the entrance to the site.”

The graveyard will be for residents of Osbaldwick and Murton and the parish councils are expecting there would not be more than 10 burials a year at the site.

According to the Environment Agency, green burials have more rapid rates of decomposition because of the relatively shallow depth of graves, the biodegradability of coffins or shrouds and the refusal to use embalming fluids.

The parish councils say: “The proposed purchase of the land, initial remediation workon the land and hedgerow planting would represent a significant financial and time commitment on behalf of the parish councils of Osbaldwick and Murton, however it is encouraging that despite these proposals having been kept relatively quiet a number of organisations have come forward to offer assistance.

“It will likely take the form of a 50-year loan with the fees raised from burials being used to meet part of the loan repayments after maintenance costs but the bulk of the repayments being met from parish precepts.”

They add that the “pressing need” for the site is thought to outweigh the significant investment required.