A ROW has blown up over after a council approved plans for a new housing estate – with its own cemetery.
East Lothian Council has given the go-ahead in principle for 165 homes, a playpark, restaurant and a graveyard with space for around 2,700 bodies.
But the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has warned that the bodies could contaminate groundwater in surrounding the area.
The council has now agreed to carry out further investigation into the Prestonpans development before giving final approval.
The Dolphingstone Farm site is decribed by developers Hallam Land Management as offering “shared surface principles throughout”.
There will be “tree avenues and a central landscape park” offering “a high quality setting for a new community, set into the landscape with the backdrop of mature and interplanted woodland to the south boundaries”.
But the 21-acre development – just south of the Royal Musselburgh Golf Course – will also include a cemetery the size of two football pitches.
The 3.5 acre cemetery, according to official guidelines, has the capacity for some 2,766 corpses.
The leader of the council, Willie Innes, said during discussion of the plan that the new cemetery was vital, warning councillors “within a short space of time there will be no space to bury our dead”.
But a spokesman for SEPA confirmed they objected to the development.
“Our objection is based on the potential for the proposed cemetery to impact adversely on groundwater,” said the spokesman.
“SEPA considers possible impacts on groundwater from cemetery development to be a principal issue that should be addressed.”
Groundwater – beneath the surface of the earth – provides 73% of Scotland’s private water supplies and 5% of the public water supply.
One third of a million Scots drink from groundwater sources on a daily basis.
East Lothian Council said: “This isn’t something the council can comment on as it is still going through the planning process. The application has been approved in principle so we are still awaiting a detailed planning application.
“The council will be liaising with SEPA on any information received from the applicant with regard to ground water.”