Region’s ‘shining star’ idea to plan natural burial ground
A NATURAL burial ground could be established in Mullumbimby after a Byron Shire Council decision on Thursday.
Deputy mayor Michael Lyon and councillor Jeannette Martin raised a notice of motion to identify an area on a council-owned property on Vallances Rd for that purpose.
A steering committee of community members will be established to oversee the process.
"We have a chance to do something wonderful here," Cr Lyon said.
"We've got an unused, unloved piece of land."
He said the council had already acknowledged the benefits of natural burials - often characterised by the use of a shroud rather than a coffin - compared to traditional burials and cremation.
"We don't actually have that many burials per year in Byron Shire but there is a chance to increase that and move people away from less sustainable practices," he said.
Cr Martin said the project could be "a shining star for the Byron Shire Council".
"It will support our environmental and biodiversity outcomes," Cr Martin said.
They explained the idea to use a portion of the land for burials, with an expanse of regenerated parkland open to the public.
"It will become an absolutely beautiful nature reserve open to the public with areas for natural burials," Cr Martin said.
Cr Paul Spooner raised issue with the fact the land had been slated for potential future affordable housing use.
"Im very supportive of (natural burials) happening within the shire, I think it's a great community initiative," Cr Spooner said.
"We do need to be cognisant of the fact that council has very little land in which to deliver.
"While its important to look after the dead it's also important to look after the living."
Cr Lyon said it was important for the shire to balance its various needs.
"We do have to look after the needs of the living," he said.
"We do have to address our … affordable housing crisis. We are under attack from all angles.
"I think we've come to a happy compromise here"
The motion had originally sought to investigate the possibility of subdividing and selling parts of the land to the north of the area, but this idea was dropped from the motion, which was ultimately supported by all councillors.