After eight years of opposition from residents in the Scenic Hills of Campbelltown, the first sod of the Macarthur Memorial Park cemetery at Varroville was turned on Thursday after an Indigenous smoking ceremony to remove bad spirits. Construction will begin in March.
According to this report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the cemetery comes just in time to avert a grave shortage as death rates increase.
A 2017 government report forecast that greater Sydney would deplete its entire cemetery capacity by 2051 if there was no change to the rate of cremation and burial.
The fight to get the cemetery approved had taken eight years in the face of "some pretty strong opposition", said Peter O'Meara, the chief executive of the non-profit organisation Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria (CCC). The CCC-run cemetery at Varroville will be non-denominational.
The NSW Independent Planning Commission last July directed the Sydney Western City Planning Panel to approve plans to build the cemetery on rural land known as the Scenic Hills. But it rejected plans by the Catholics to build another large cemetery near Penrith.