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Environment Agency ‘thumbs up’ for £6.5 crematorium

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A council’s bid to build a crematorium on the site of a former outdoor leisure centre moved a step closer after the Environment Agency gave it a conditional green light.

Thirteen months after East Cambridgeshire District Council submitted proposals for the £6.5 crematorium at Mepal, the Environment Agency says it is now satisfied groundwater resources will be protected.

The plans allow for the construction of a crematorium, associated buildings, a natural burial area, pet cemetery, and new access from the A142.

The Environment Agency says it requires permits for new cemeteries that present a high risk to the environment or require active mitigation measures or burial controls to protect groundwater.

“The documents submitted in support of this planning application provide us with confidence that it will be possible to suitably manage the risks posed to groundwater resources by this development,” the Environment Agency has now told the district council.

“In light of the above, the proposed development will be acceptable if the following planning condition is included.

“Without this condition we would object to the proposal in line with paragraph 174 of the National Planning Policy Framework because it cannot be guaranteed that the development will not present unacceptable risks to groundwater resources.”

The condition is that all burials in the cemetery shall be

• a minimum of 50 m from a potable groundwater supply source.

• a minimum of 30 m from a water course or spring.

• a minimum of 10 m distance from field drains.

• a minimum of 1 m above the highest anticipated annual groundwater level.

The agency says this will protect the quality of controlled waters in the local area

Other issues remain, for instance Fenland Council has raised questions about the need for it.

Mepal crematorium will be less than 10 miles from March, where a crematorium opened 11 years ago.

Gavin Taylor, senior development management officer at Fenland Council, says “it is best practice for the council to be able to establish the need for the development”.

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