Plans to develop a new cemetery at Brustin Brae in Larne have been put on hold by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, it has emerged.
The local authority had ring-fenced a sum of money to deliver a new burial ground at the site.
But the Times can reveal that a number of issues are being investigated following a groundwater survey at the proposed location.
The project has now been shelved and the local authority told the Times: “We cannot as yet say when work will resume.”
However, a council spokesperson confirmed that land has been identified within the town’s existing Greenland Cemetery.
“Should this be suitable, it would allow sufficient space for burials up to the end of 2018,” the spokesperson said.
At the council’s latest monthly meeting, elected members were told there was a “pressing need” for new burial space in Larne, as existing grave capacity was becoming limited.
Members also heard that plans for the development of a new site at Brustin Brae had been “curtailed” due to groundwater contamination issues.
A report from director of operations stated: “Staff are continuing to work on options for a new site or potential extension in Larne whilst at the same time exploring opportunities to maximise the existing lifespan of the Greenland and McGarel cemeteries.”
The report also highlighted that burial capacity in Carrickfergus had reached a point where a new site needed to be “identified and developed”.
“Council has approved a report from the Operations Committee to proceed with an advert to identify a potential site for a new cemetery within Carrickfergus,” the report continued.
Councillors approved the recommendation contained within the report, stating that staff work with planning officers to provide an initial overview on the long-term planning requirements for cemetery provision within Mid and East Antrim borough.
Cllr Billy Henry welcomed the report but asked that the possibility of a crematorium in Mid and East Antrim be looked at.
Chief executive Anne Donaghy said it would be “more appropriate to find out what the plans are in Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council”, as she said she understood they are “well advanced” in their plans for a crematorium and that she understood the business case served the entire east of the province.
Cllr Henry said he was happy to leave the matter with her given her comments.