FEARS have been raised that people living in Dunbar could face the prospect of being buried away from the town unless a solution can be found regarding a new cemetery.

Currently, town residents or people with a connection to Dunbar are buried at Deer Park Cemetery.

However, time is fast running out to find land for an extension to the cemetery, which is on the town’s eastern edge, or for a second cemetery.

One solution is for an extension to be created within a controversial planning application for a housing development, which could be considered by East Lothian Council’s planning committee later this month.

That site – at Newtonlees – would see the cemetery built on the opposite side of the road from Deer Park, with housing on three sides.

However, the site falls outwith the local authority’s Local Development Plan and would see up to 115 new homes built, just yards away from another 240 already-approved homes.

Stuart Pryde, from East Lothian Council, was at Dunbar Community Council’s meeting last month where he outlined the future of Deer Park Cemetery, which has space for the next three or four years based on average annual usage.

He told members: “We are literally using up the very last piece of new ground in that cemetery around the eastern boundary.”

An option was for an L-shaped extension to be created on the same side of the road on land owned by Dunbar Golf Club but this had fallen by the wayside. That proposal was “no longer cost effective”, with the possibility of acquiring land on the other side of the road now being explored.

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “It is estimated that Deer Park Cemetery has space for the next three to four years, based on average annual use.

“There are still plans to extend the cemetery on land across the road from the current site but these are still at an early stage and require full survey work including ground water levels etc. Any plans for an extension will also tie in with developer contributions from housebuilders developing in the town so it’s too early to provide full details.

“The situation in Deer Park is similar to other cemeteries/graveyards across the county which are close to being full but land is at a premium in East Lothian, which can make existing site extensions difficult to plan, and within the recent council’s burial strategy mention was made of a new site outwith existing settlements.”

The proposed cost for land for a new cemetery in Dunbar is estimated to amount to £690,000, with the preferred location coming within the town’s boundaries.

The possibility of people being buried outwith Dunbar did not sit well with a number of the community councillors.

Stephen Bunyan, the group’s chairman, said: “It is very difficult to get to a situation where people in Dunbar could not be buried in Dunbar.”

Sue Anderson, a fellow community councillor, questioned what the point of the Local Development Plan was if developments could just go ahead anyway. She urged further discussions to take place between the local authority and Dunbar Golf Club in a bid to see the L-shaped extension brought back into consideration. She said: “I think we have to consider other options and revisit other options.”