Council claims ‘UK first’ with eco crematorium plan

Design proposal for the crematorium in Huntingdon

Design proposal for the crematorium in Huntingdon - Credit: Archant

Work on the multi-million pound plant, together with a cemetery and council depot, near its sports area off Kings Ripton Road, is set to start in the new year – with the first burials taking place in about two year’s time.

The project, costing around £7m, is the biggest ever taken on by the town council.

The council said sustainability and the environment were at the core of its service delivery, encapsulated in the crematorium scheme which will see surplus heat used in greenhouses to grow plants for the town's floral displays.

It said in a statement: "The initial stage of the project will be the installation of an access road and the levelling and seeding of the new cemetery. The town council's estates services team will then be undertaking the planting of trees and hedges so that they are established before the cemetery is used as a burial ground in approximately two years' time.

"The crematorium chapel and buildings will commence construction in the spring and the town council is pleased to announce that the first all-electric, carbon neutral cremator in the UK will be installed which uses a 'green energy' supply."

The stratement added: "The use of a traditional gas cremator would require the annual planting of seven acres of trees to offset its carbon footprint."

Funding for the crematorium and cemetery will come from the Public Works Loan Board and will be repaid through income generated by the crematorium. Earlier this year town clerk Philip Peacock told a special meeting of the authority that it would be "prudent" to ask for £7.5million.

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The council has been looking for a crematorium and cemetery site for around five years to make sure there was sufficient burial space in the town. It says the method of funding means scheme will be sustainable and cost neutral to residents.

There are no crematoria in the Huntingdon area, with cremations currently taking place some distance away in places like Cambridge, Peterborough and Bedford.

National funeral firm Dignity UK Ltd also has plans in for a crematorium a short distance away near Wyton, meaning the Huntingdon area could have two crematoria within a couple of miles of each other.

In addition to the crematorium and cemetery, the town council will also be moving is depot from St Peter's Road to the rear of the crematorium.

The depot will take waste heat from the crematorium via a heat exchanger to heat new glasshouses which will grow the town's supply of flowers for its summer and winter displays. Rainwater from the depot and glasshouses will be harvested to water the plants and there will be solar panels installed on the buildings to generate electricity to power battery-operated mowers and equipment.

Compost from the flowers, grass cuttings and hedge trimmings will be generated on site using an 'eco-green composter' and the resulting material will be used on flower beds and for growing plants.

Plans and drawings for the scheme will be on display at the town hall from December 9-20 so that residents can find out more about the project, ask questions and submit comments.