David vs Goliath battle for greenbelt land in Lancashire as residents rally against plans for one of Europe’s largest cemeteries
Grassroots movement Say No To The Cemetery raises over £14,000 to fight billionaire-backed Issa Foundation proposal
A group of local residents in Lancashire are stepping up their fight against proposals to build an 85-acre cemetery on greenbelt land in Oswaldtwistle, which covers Knuzden, Stanhill and West End.
Plans for the multi-faith cemetery – one of the biggest on the continent – have been submitted by the Issa Foundation and backed by the billionaire brothers who co-founded Euro Garages and acquired majority shareholder status in Asda.
However, residents argue the development will be environmentally, socially and financially detrimental to the local area – encroaching on wildlife, devaluing properties and bringing unwanted noise, light and traffic pollution.
The cemetery has faced fierce opposition since the planning application became public in October 2021, with almost 4,000 people signing a petition to Hyndburn Borough Council to stop the work and 300 people pledging donations to the cause.
Environmental, highway and water authorities have also raised concerns, with residents launching a campaign group to legally contest the proposals.
Say No To The Cemetery has so far raised a warchest of £14,000 – using the funds to hire a landscape architect, law firm and planning consultant to prove the cemetery is both unnecessary and damaging.
With 35,000 plots, the new cemetery will span 68 football pitches and take two hours to walk around – despite the fact three existing local cemeteries in nearby Hyndburn have provision (for 90, 50 and 40 years of burials respectively).
665 parking spaces are being created as part of the project, with footpaths, trees and dry stone walls due to be torn away. The cemetery is also being built on land that suffers flooding every winter, meaning water running across graves could contaminate local waterways.
Construction could also endanger wildlife (including crested newts and bats) with the completed project bringing an increased amount of traffic to an area that already suffers due to busy roads.
A primary school overlooks the site – potentially causing disruption for children – whilst 24-hour floodlights will create light pollution seven days a week.
The campaign group is also claiming the cemetery will devalue properties in the local area by up to 50%.
Excavation may take months or more than a year and will require 67,000 trucks of material. Extension levelling work will also level the rolling Lancashire hills.
A spokesperson for Say No To The Cemetery said: “The locals do not want this – it’s as simple as that. We don’t want to lose our greenbelt.
“The cemetery is going to be severely damaging to the community in so many different ways, which is why our group is raising funds to pull together a technical rebuttal and fight back.
“Our heritage status is at threat here. We know this is a David vs Goliath battle but we will not back down.”