Ash burials challenged
The prospect of laying ashes to rest in a natural burial cemetery has been challenged in a discussion of proposed amendments to the Palmerston North City Council's cemeteries and crematorium bylaw.
Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell wants the council to delay making the changes until it has a better understanding of what sort of natural burial ground people want.
He told the community wellbeing committee yesterday that ash burials were at odds with the idea of natural burials.
"They want to have the least negative impact on the environment, whereas cremation is one of the most unsustainable practices you could have."
But the committee has recommended, by 10 votes to four, that the changes should be included in an "omnibus" of bylaw amendments. Most councillors were satisfied that the public consultation would help refine the vision for the city's first natural burial ground.
One of the critical changes would be to allow shallow burials to enable rapid decomposition of the body.
At the moment, the bylaw requires burials at 1.8 metres, the traditional "six feet under", but assets officer Brian Way said the changes would recognise the current practice of a 1.6m depth as the norm.
Natural burials would be at a maximum of 1 metre, with a 40cm covering, although Cr Teo-Sherrell said the ideal depth should be dictated by soil type and moisture levels at the site.
Only biodegradable tributes and a simple wooden plaque would be allowed to mark individual graves.
Some councillors wanted provision for people to be buried in the same grave as family members, but Mr Way said it would be impractical to disturb shallow graves, especially once they had been planted over.
Submissions are likely to be called next month with a deadline before Christmas. Decisions would be made next year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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