Green graves given the go-ahead

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By ALEXANDER LAWRIE

A NEW eco-friendly cemetery where up to 1,000 nature lovers can be buried has finally been given the green light.

The recently deceased will be laid to rest under a “cathedral of trees” at the site at Binning Wood, near Tyninghame, East Lothian.

Only biodegradable coffins will be allowed, while headstones will be banned in a bid to maintain the woodland’s natural setting.

In their place, relatives can place small, locally-sourced stones featuring an inscription to mark their loved ones graves.

Plans for the green cemetery were initially submitted to East Lothian Council four years ago but were put on hold while the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) investigated potential drainage problems.

All the issues have been resolved and the council’s planning committee has now given the go-ahead for the environmentally-friendly place of rest.

John Gray, a farmer who bought the woodland eight years ago, believes the cemetery will prove popular with those wishing to stay close to nature, even after their death.

Robert Gray, a forestry and arboricultural consultant who helped the wood’s owner draw up the plans, said: “The owner looked at green sites in the south of England and thought that would be an opportunity for Binning Wood.

“Two sections were found among small clearings among the trees which we believed would lend themselves to lairs.

“We want to keep it as natural as possible with no upright headstones or ornaments. A small stone with an inscription will be laid above each lair. That will allow family members to find their loved ones, but nothing will change the natural setting.

“The burial plots will be mixed in between the trees in a very intimate way.

“The tall trees meeting overhead are like a green canopy which gives a cathedral effect. It’s a very spiritual place.

“Only coffins made of natural materials will be buried there.”

The historic three-hectare woodland site is made up of Scots pine, beech, larch and oak trees with the first of them planted in the 1600s.

Plans for the first burials at the cemetery will be finalised when appropriate parking provisions have been made.

A spokesman for East Lothian Council said: “This application was submitted a number of years ago and required experts’ approval from Sepa regarding drainage issues.

“All permissions have now been granted and we feel many residents will welcome this alternative in the country, which has proven popular elsewhere in Scotland.”

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