Natural burial ground set for farmland overlooking Vale of Belvoir

A farming family’s field is to be transformed into a natural burial ground with graves marked just by discrete wooden plaques or carvings in a wildflower meadow.

Saturday, 15th May 2021, 3:15 pm
Scott O'Dell, of Fisher German, with Emily, James, George and Clair Goodson at the site of their planned natural burial ground at Bottesford EMN-210515-145341001

The aim of the Bottesford scheme is to provide a sustainable alternative to conventional burial and cremation options while maintaining the attractive landcape of the area and enhancing its biodiversity.

Planning permission has been given for the land to be converted to the east of Normanton Lane and it is hoped the first burials will take place next year.

The 136-hectare Castle View Farm is run by James and Clair Goodson, with support from their two children, Emily and George.

It already features a number of diversification streams, including livery stables, a fishing lake, the letting of buildings, solar PV and the farm has been part of a stewardship scheme for two decades.

The natural burial ground was the brainchild of Emily (21), a business and environment student at the University of Leeds, who said: “We looked at a number of different diversification options for the site but wanted something which wouldn’t impact on the landscape.

“It’s at the top of a hill with beautiful views of the Vale of Belvoir so we were keen to ensure the natural features were not just maintained, but enhanced, which is when I suggested a natural burial ground.

“In terms of infrastructure, it will include a grid reinforced car park which will have grass growing through it to be sensitive to the surroundings, fencing, hedgerows and trees and the rest of the site will be transformed into a wildflower meadow.”

Wildflower planting, landscaping and fencing is expected to take place later this year and the site should be able to accommodate up to 100 burials a year.

“It’s one of the more unusual methods of diversification, but provides significant benefits to both the local community who will be provided with an alternative to conventional burial and cremation options as well as the ecology of the area,” added Emily.

“It will also open up what is currently a private arable field so that members of the community can appreciate views that they won’t have seen before due to them being constrained to the public footpaths or permissive access we allow.”

Farmer, James, added: “People are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment, and natural burial sites provide a sustainable alternative to the more conventional options available.

“The site will provide people of all faiths with a place that they can reflect and celebrate life, surrounded by stunning countryside views.

“We are extremely proud to see Emily’s idea come to fruition.

“It’s excellent when young people in farming families have ideas like this that they are able to take forward.

“Our son, George, is studying an agricultural degree at Harper Adams University and also has some ideas for the farm which we will also be looking into.”

Fisher German, a property consultancy, worked with the family in the planning application process.

The company’s Scott O’Dell commented: “It will be an extremely positive facility for the area which is sensitive to the landscape and we look forward to seeing work on the site progress.”