HUDDERSFIELD'S first natural burial ground was officially opened by former World Cup footballer Ray Wilson MBE.
Ray, who was a funeral director in Huddersfield and Halifax for 25 years after his football career, said the burial ground at Rose Hill, off Birkby Hall Road, Birkby, was a tranquil and peaceful place.
"It has a presence and stillness about it," he said. "In fact I'm seriously thinking about getting a plot for myself!"
The burial ground is in the former park land of Rose Hill, a Victorian grade II manor house, and was the idea of owner, businessman Michael Brook.
He has spent the last five years researching and planning the site. He said the application had not been without problems but added he was glad it was finally open.
"The journey did not take the route we expected but we do understand that people have misunderstandings and misconceptions about natural burial grounds and are afraid of the unknown," he said.
The six-acre site could accommodate 6,000 plots and 12,000 burials.
Coffins should be biodegradable without any plastic or lead fittings.
There would be no large headstones disturbing the natural landscape and only horizontal plaques measuring a maximum of 18in by 12 in would be allowed. Trees would be planted on the site and in 50 years it would look like a natural woodland, he said. Access would be via a new drive.
"Since the ground was advertised I have been inundated with calls from people inquiring about the burial ground," he said.
Mr Brook said he first thought about the idea after reading a newspaper article about natural burial grounds.
"It mentioned in particular the problems of running cemeteries because many of them are full, there's difficulty in securing them and there's the cost of maintaining them," he said.
The cost of a burial at Rose Hill would be about £1,495 with no follow-up maintenance costs.
All funerals and burials would be conducted by registered professional funeral directors.
* It is open to any religion or faith, and the non-religious.
* It encourages the use of biodegradable materials in the preparation of bodies and the use of environmentally-friendly coffins.
* It encourages the planting of wildflowers on burial plots.
* Individual graves can be consecrated as desired.
* Electronic microchips are used to uniquely mark all graves.
* Cremated remains can be buried.