A lake set within a nature reserve could become the world’s first underwater BURIAL site.
Bereaved family and friends could send their loved ones off in a unique way by forming their ashes into statues which will sit on the lake bed in a new opportunity.
An artificial reef, bringing in weeds, plants and wildlife, will then form a paradise as a final resting place.
Buckland Lake Reserve, in Cliffe, Kent, is on the site of a former chalk pit and is already a popular attraction.
Owner Doug Hilton is now looking for someone else to take over the running over the site and believes the floating graveyard could become highly popular and potentially lucrative.
He said: “We have secured planning permission from Medway Council for sailing, bushcraft, camping, cycle hire, canoeing and corporate entertainment as well as the burial reefs.
“I think the artificial reef could be very special.
“They do scattering of ashes in the Medway and the Thames, but the difference with us is they’ll know where the ashes are.
“If you do ashes at sea, people don’t like necessarily going on boats and it’s reliant on the weather.
“On our lake, although it’s big, and it can be windy, the waves are never that bad. So you can always get out there.
“We’ve got great facilities to go with it, the lake is deep enough but shallow enough to get the reef growth.
“In a standard graveyard you’re not normally allowed any type of statue and I think a lot of people want something special. We would be able to provide that.
“The more irregular the shape of the statue the better the weed will grow on it and not just that, but it will provide shelter for fish and aquatic life so you get this whole reef starting to form.
“I think a lot of people will go down this route given the chance.”
While Buckland would be the first in-land lake to offer this, the Neptune Memorial Reef off the coast of Florida has already proved popular.
Macabre tourists are even allowed to dive through the underwater Atlantis of colonnades, statues and memorial plaques.
Doug, 67, added: “They have gone into extravagant underwater layouts. People pay about £5,000 and if you wanted go into one of the main lions that was £50k. And that’s three miles off shore.”
The plan for the Buckland Lake version – thought to be the only inland lake in the world to start offering the service – the ashes can be mixed into the plinths or form part of the statue moulds themselves.
He adds: “We’ll zone the lake so areas for different religions and pets too.
“There’s zero chance of vandalism as far as we’re concerned and the statues will only help aquatic life.”
Doug bought the site in 2001, and since has installed facilities for fishing, watersports, a cafe and a posh camping site.