The Public Health Regulation 2022 (the Regulation) allows the burial of a deceased person on private land if the area of landholding is at least five hectares, and it has been approved by the local government authority.

Last updated: 01 September 2022

Approval procedure

Local Council approval is required for a burial on private land. The burial must not contaminate a drinking water supply and other conditions may apply to the approval. Applicants are advised to contact the council where the burial is to take place to confirm local council rules, and to obtain the necessary approval.

Approval conditions

For burials on private land other than a private cemetery, the following conditions need to be met:

  • The total landholding must be equal to or exceed five hectares, burial on smaller landholdings is not allowed.
  • Bodies must be buried at a minimum depth as detailed in the Regulation (900 millimetres from the top of the coffin to the natural soil level).
  • Bodies must be placed in a coffin prior to burial.
  • A geotechnical investigation may be required if there is any likelihood of contamination of groundwater and/or surface waters. The investigation should determine the suitability of the location for burial and consider factors such as the depth of soil, and the water table.
  • A drinking water supply means a water supply which is, or could be, used for internal ingestion or consumption, food preparation or ablutions. A domestic water supply means a water supply used for domestic purposes such as clothes washing and toilet flushing.
  • A geotechnical report can give an indication of groundwater movement and water tables, even in dry times. Further, an indication of the soil depth and underlying substrate will enable both the proponent and the council to be aware of problems, such a rock outcrops or rock floaters that may be encountered in digging a grave to a suitable depth and can be requested as part of the application in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Authority.
  • The burial place must be approved by a Local Government Authority under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
  • The Planning approval may include public notification, meaning that neighbours and other interested parties must be advised that an application for development has been lodged and can comment on the application.
  • The Local Government Authority is to give consideration as to whether public access to the area should be maintained, by direct access, or alternatively, by a right of way or easement, to consider future access needs, such as if the property is sold or if the remains are to be exhumed or other interments made.
  • The area should be suitably fenced to delineate the boundaries of the location and secure the location.
  • A restriction on the immediate use of the area adjacent to the private burial ground should be instigated to prevent building or disturbances of the grave sites.
  • The burial location site should be described and drawn by a registered land surveyor together with details of the location of the deceased buried in respective sites and a copy should be forwarded to the local authority for placement on the property file.
  • It is recommended that the Local Government Authority maintains a register of private burial locations.
  • The grave should be permanently marked with details of the deceased and the boundaries of the grave excavation should also be permanently marked.
  • The establishment of an above ground burial chamber should not be encouraged unless additional security precautions are taken.
  • Provision of a long-term perpetual site plan to ensure the graves are always kept in a safe and sustainable condition.

Further advice

Current as at: Thursday 1 September 2022
Contact page owner: Environmental Health