A natural burial ground where people can be laid to rest in a cardboard coffin or have a holly bush instead of a headstone has been finished on the outskirts of Wolverhampton.
The Natural Burial Company will open its Wrottesley Park site on Saturday, two-and-a-half years after the plans were approved by South Staffordshire District Council.
The near eight-acre site in Wergs Road, Perton, has around 2,000 burial spaces and cost more than £30,000 to set up, the bulk of which was spent on clearing a vast area of scrub woodland known as Corser's Rough.
There will be around 100 burials a year at the site, with a single plot costing £850 and a double £1,700.
There are no headstones, only wooden posts featuring small slate plaques for an inscription that naturally wear away over the years. Records will be kept by placing a GPS transponder in each grave.
But families can have one of a number of memorials to remember their loved ones by, such as an English oak tree for £450, holly bush for £150 or a bird or bat box for £35.
Land owner Lord Clifton Wrottesley will now become a shareholder in the business, which was set up 17 years ago by cardboard coffin creator Paul Ginns and his brother Bill.
Lord Wrottesley said: “There will be a limit of 100 burials per year. If demand is high we can go back to the Environment Agency to ask for permission to increase it."
It is expected to host two funerals a week and coffins will be made out of materials such as wicker and cardboard.
"People can also plant a tree at the grave," added Lord Wrottesley. "We recommend wicker and cardboards coffins, but we recognise that we can’t stop people who prefer a more traditional coffin or casket.
"We don’t allow hard wood, but banana leaf, bamboo, a shroud or eco pod is acceptable."
The company runs two other sites, in Scraptoft, Leicester, and Prestwold, Loughborough.
Corser’s Rough was formerly a temporary Second World War military base that was demolished in the 1960s.
The launch on Saturday will feature the release of white doves, a horse drawn hearse, limousines, representatives from 20 funeral homes and dignitaries including South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson and councillors for the areas.
The project has created one full-time and one part-time job.
There are around 240 natural burial grounds across the UK. The first one opened in Carlisle in 1993.
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