Natural burial grounds consist of rural sites where burial without markers takes place in natural conditions with a central memorial. It is essential that the correct sites are chosen for a burial ground as there can be a risk of organic and bacterial pollution to ground and surface waters.
Hydrogeo Limited was commissioned by Leedam Natural Heritage to undertake a Hydrgeological Risk Assessment for a Natural Burial Ground sited on a meadow in the Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire.
The purpose of the assessment was to identify groundwater dependent receptors and pathways between the burial area and receptors, to investigate and characterise the shallow geology at the site in terms of suitability for burial, and to provide site specific data for a qualitative assessment of potential risks to groundwater dependent receptors.
A desk study and site investigation informed the conceptual hydrogeological model for the burial site. The site conceptual model was used to undertake a qualitative hydrogeological risk assessment of the level of potential risk to groundwater and surface water dependent receptors.
The geological desk study indicated that the site was underlain by a significant layer of clay which limits the downward and lateral migration of water in the subsurface. A site investigation including trial pitting confirmed the desk studies findings. The risk from the proposed natural burial ground to groundwater in the Lower Greensands Aquifer beneath the site was considered to be Low, and the risk to groundwater abstractions and watercourses was also considered to be Low.
Hydrogeo’s Hydrogeological Risk Assessment Report was accepted by the regulator and the site successfully received planning and opened in May 2014.