Liverpool City Council has become the biggest in the UK to join the green burial movement as conventional cemeteries fill up, a council spokesperson told edie on 22 January. The project has just been approved by the Liberal-Democrat dominated council, which has stipulated the use of biodegradable coffins and saplings and tree-stumps to take the place of headstones, Tom Farrell said.

Natural burials usually use cardboard coffins, costing an annual £50, as a substitute for traditional wooden ones, which on average cost about £300.

The city has set aside woodland outside the city at Woolton for ashes of cremated bodies to be buried from next month. The scheme will then allow bodies to be buried in woods at Allerton, also outside the city.

“We took the decision for environmental reasons and because existing cemeteries have become very crowded,” Farrell said. “We have now allocated enough space for about 20 years worth of burials”.

Recent figures showed that one of the six council-owned cemeteries is full, and another two soon will be. Media reports said that as 30% of the UK’s population still opt for burial, space is needed for 160,000 new graves annually.

The diocese of Ely in Cambridgeshire has also introduced natural burials, the first official sign of church approval.

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