In January this year the Parish Council published their decision to have all plastic removed from the graveyards. This decision was taken in line with Environmental and Climate concerns and unanimously approved by the Parish Council on 14 July 2020. The local press was informed and there have been several articles in the local newspapers. Signs were put up in the cemeteries and our website and local Facebook pages have also broadcast this.
We went to the cemetery this morning and encountered some opposition. On the whole, when we explained why we were doing this, people supported the initiative, and we were pleased to meet people face to face to discuss this.
People are under the misapprehension that when they purchase a burial plot, they are buying the plot of land. What people are doing is purchasing an Exclusive Right which entitles someone to be buried in the plot for a period of 99 years. Our cemetery regulations still need to be adhered to. Cemeteries all have different regulations – some only allowing a headstone and no flowers, some not allowing black granite: the Diocese of Truro does not allow any artificial flowers.
As a council we are entitled to change our regulations – this decision was not taken lightly but it is in direct response to the plastic crisis which is causing destruction to the wildlife and landscape. Snowdrops, hellebores, bluebells, primulas, geraniums, daffodils, pansies, begonias etc are all plants that are seasonal and will add colour all year round. These could be planted in terracotta tubs or directly in the ground as an alternative to the artificial flowers.
This morning we took on board people’s comments that they wanted to be the people to remove the artificial flowers and ornaments and we have left them on the graves, but our initiative still remains. We will be revisiting the cemetery at the end of September to clear any remaining plastic.
Silk flowers on metal stems will be allowed so long as there are no plastic pieces – these small pieces are what ends up causing the most damage. The problem with plastic is worldwide but as a Council we want to do our bit.
We thank the members of the public who turned up to help tidy up the cemetery and a whole dumpy bag was filled with general litter.
I completely understand your views on plastic, it would be lovely if as much enthusiasm could be invested into the maintenance of the older side of the cemetery. Although roughly cut back now, on one occasion I had to cut my way in to even see my fathers resting place! Even now, some of the graves are overgrown and in an awful state. These may not be under your 99 year rule, they are still the resting place of someone which personally I feel deserves respect.
Additionally, I do hope that the lone soldier you have at the entrance has no plastic? I feel this would be extremely hypocritical.
Dear Debbie – thank you for your comments. We are going to review the rewilding project: we are trying to respond to the environment and climate issues and have been rewilding older parts of the churchyards but this is going to be reviewed. We feel there is a better balance we can meet between the positive comments we received about the natural plants and flowers and it looking untidy and hard to find headstones. We needed to run it for a year to see how the vegetation grew. It is my understanding that the lone soldiers are metalwork structures.