Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is introducing a trial system at Carnmoney Main Cemetery in a bid to create more burial plots.
Known as a ‘Subterranean Shoring System’, it will enable the council to continue to provide traditional burials in areas of unstable ground, within existing cemetery boundaries.
“The system will protect against party wall failures/collapse during excavation of burial plots in areas of unstable ground, therefore helping the council to manage the current burial procedures more effectively within the cemetery,” a spokesperson explained.
The trial system, which is being installed at no cost to the council, could lead to the development of 375 new plots at an estimated cost of £515,000.
The trial is the latest move by the council in its efforts to meet demand for new burial plots in Carnmoney Cemetery.
The local authority’s Planning Committee recently approved a further extension at the site, providing an additional 117 burial plots - an estimated eight or nine months provision based on current demand.
The council is also progressing plans for a new cemetery in the Newtownabbey area.
A proposed site at Ashley Road, near Ballyearl is still subject to planning approval and will be treated as a major application.
“It’s worrying that we are running out of burial space,” said Macedon Cllr Billy Webb. “But the extension, which has just been given planning permission, will give us some extra spaces and allow council staff some time to explore other options.”
Meanwhile, the local authority has confirmed that it is close to appointing a private sector partner to design, build and operate a crematorium at Doagh Road, Ballyearl.
Work on the multi-million pound project, which is opposed by many local residents, could get under way within a matter of months.