Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

'Super cemetery' plan to be buried

Belfast City Council is expected tonight to drop its controversial plan to build a new 'super cemetery' in Lisburn after a technical site survey revealed the area was unsuitable.

Earlier this year, the council withdrew its application to build the cemetery and crematorium at a 122-acre site known as 'Drumbeg A' after it became clear it would not be able support its case during the BMAP public inquiry. However it did not rule out another site in the neighbouring city called 'Drumbeg B'.

But at a meeting of the Belfast City Council's Parks and Leisure Committee on November 15, members voted to recommend two different sites after a detailed technical survey revealed the soil at Drumbeg was too sandy and permeable and could contain groundwater.

The consultants also valued the acquisition of the site and land preparations costs at £8,935,000 - the most expensive of the four sites under consideration.

It was determined that Drumbeg was unsuitable to bury Belfast's dead despite the city having insisted it was its preferred site for the past three years.

The consultant's report also ruled out the 171-acre site at Hightown - because of similar reasons - and recommended Nutts Corner and Lisleen as the two sites for further consideration.

Belfast City Council Parks and Leisure Committee chairman Bob Stoker said finding an appropriate site to bury Belfast's dead was vital.

"At the minute we only have 10 years of burial space left in the city," he said.

"It's pretty urgent. There is not much land left within the city and 10 years pass by pretty quickly. So finding a suitable site is very important.

"From the first survey we identified four sites - Hightown Road, Nutts Corner, Lisleen and Drumbeg.

"According to the technical site survey Drumbeg was ruled out because there was too much sand. Tests were carried out for waterflow which are required by the Environment and Heritage Service and it was found to be unsuitable.

"Nutts Corner and Lisleen have been chosen as the preferred sites. But all of this will still have to go to the full council meeting for approval but it should be approved. No-one wants to waste anymore time.

"If approved the sites will then have to go another survey which could take upwards of a year."

News that Drumbeg will be ruled out has been welcomed by the Drumbeg Residents Association. The community group has been fighting the proposal for the past three years.

"The residents are delighted that Belfast City Council has found sites more acceptable to resolve the burial problems within the city," president Tony Hegarty said.

"The residents are also looking forward to our village being included within the Lagan Valley Regional Park and that this area will develop to its full potential and become a valued area for all the citizens of Lisburn and the surrounding area."

A decision on which sites will go through will be made at the full meeting of the city council tonight.

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