Cemetery closed to new burials due to water problems

The cemetery in Rectory Lane, Poringland, which has been closed to new burials under advice from the

The cemetery in Rectory Lane, Poringland, which has been closed to new burials under advice from the Environment Agency. Picture: Steve Adams. - Credit: ARCHANT LTD

Problems with water in graves has led to a Norfolk cemetery being advised not to offer any new burials - and 50 people being given a refund.

Poringland Cemetery, on Rector Lane, was advised to close by the Environment Agency because it was not fit for human burial.

The cemetery does not meet the law which states the water table should not be one metre below the bottom of a grave, so burials are not made into standing water.

Tim Boucher, chairman of Poringland Parish Council, said: 'This has been an incredibly difficult issue for the council to deal with.

'We understand that people wish to be interred with their loved ones, and for this reason we have worked with the Environment Agency to agree that double graves with remaining space will be fulfilled.

'However we have to follow the law, which states that contaminated water from graves may not be removed without adequate water treatment, and that burials must not pollute groundwater.'

Letters have been sent to 50 owners with exclusive rights, whose grave space has not yet been used.

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They have an offer of a refund to the fee initially paid alongside the option of a burial space in a new cemetery being proposed.

Enquiries into a new cemetery space have been made by Poringland Parish Council, which will reportedly take years to gain permission and create.

Mr Boucher added: 'The advice from the council's specialist cemetery consultants is that there is no suitable mitigation that can be put in place to allow the cemetery to remain open.

'We have therefore taken the difficult decision to close to all but ashes and re-opening of graves, with immediate effect.'

Around 110 letters have also been sent to grave owners where only one person has been buried, alerting them to the issue. Many of these are old graves unlikely to be opened for a second burial.

A further 70 graves could potentially be re-opened but the council has no updated contact details for the owners.

'We apologise to all those affected, and will work hard to find an alternative solution to enable people to be buried within the parish in future,' Mr Boucher continued.

Anyone who owns a grave in Poringland Cemetery and has not received a letter by August 13 should contact the parish Office on 01508 492182, or email clerk@poringlandparishcouncil.gov.uk.