A COUNCIL plan to extend a cemetery’s burial space has met with objections from a public body over water risks.

Darlington Borough Council has applied for planning permission to provide new burial ground next to West Cemetery in Darlington.

It is proposed to add plots, and spaces for interment of ashes, on agricultural land for the Carmel Road cemetery, but the Environment Agency (EA) believes the extension “may pose an unacceptable risk” of harming groundwater quality.

In a letter objecting to the plan, the EA says the site is “known to be subject to groundwater flooding”.

They said: “The risks to groundwater from the development are unacceptable.

“The applicant has not supplied adequate information to demonstrate that the risks posed to groundwater can be satisfactorily managed.

“We recommend that planning permission should be refused on this basis.”

The EA continued: “We will oppose development proposals that may pollute groundwater especially where the risks of pollution are high and the groundwater asset is of high value.

“The proposed development involves human burials in an area known to be susceptible to shallow groundwater flooding, which presents a risk to groundwater resources.

“To ensure development is sustainable, applicants must provide adequate information to demonstrate that the risks posed by development to groundwater can be satisfactorily managed.

“In this instance the applicant has failed to provide this information and we consider that the proposed development may pose an unacceptable risk of causing a detrimental impact to groundwater quality.

“We will maintain our objection until we receive satisfactory information that demonstrates that the risks to groundwater posed by this development can be satisfactorily managed.”

The EA set out five requirements for groundwater protection, regarding graves, burials and water.

In a letter, agent Hannah Clayton said on behalf of agents Align Property Partners that the proposals met all these requirements.

Now the EA wants more information on the rate of burials, groundwater monitoring, a site investigation report, drainage and the sewer network.

Irene Ord, of Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, set out objections from Woodburn Cottage, raising issues regarding drainage, flood risk, planning, heritage, impact on the setting, “environmental and cultural objections” and “inaccurate and misleading historic information with weak evaluation of the wider cemetery setting”.

She said the developer had not put forward clear and convincing arguments for their case. She added: “Darlington may gain short-term use of a different/larger cemetery/crematorium/graveyard - until it is finally full.

“But the adjoining assets/settings on whose significance it has been founded have greater rights to be publicly respected, enhanced and protected for the wider enjoyment of future generations.”

A Darlington Borough Council spokesman said: “We are aware of the objection from the Environment Agency and the design team is working to address those concerns.”