FIERCELY-CONTESTED plans for a privately-run cemetery in Keighley have been given the green light by district councillors.

There were dramatic scenes in Bradford City Hall today, as the chairman of the Regulatory and Appeals Committee twice threatened to throw out objectors for failing to abide by its rules.

The committee was considering controversial plans by applicant Keighley Community Cemetery to turn the old Braithwaite Edge quarry near Keighley Tarn into a burial ground accommodating up to 2,000 graves.

But interjections from the public gallery prompted chairman Councillor David Warburton to threaten to clear the room and hear the matter in private.

The meeting heard that while there was no imminent need for new burial plots, the last application for a new cemetery had been in 1928 in Clayton.

Cllr Brian Morris objected to the scheme, saying there were no special circumstances which justified developing the green belt land, off Black Hill Lane.

Objector Mike Kosschuk, of the Friends of Utley Cemetery, also raised concerns, including worries that water courses would be contaminated with pathogens from decomposing human tissue.

He added that there would be "greatly increased traffic flows, particularly after Friday prayers and similar at Eid festival time".

But he overran his allotted five minutes speaking time, and did not respond to repeated requests from Cllr Warburton to stop speaking.

Threatening to eject him from the meeting, Cllr Warburton said: "You are really getting up my nose."

Picking up on Mr Kosschuk's comments, committee member Cllr Doreen Lee said she understood the proposal was for "a cemetery for everyone, this is not just a Muslim cemetery".

This was confirmed by agent for the scheme Michael Ainsworth, of the Mineral Planning Group, who said it would be a multi-faith facility.

Committee member Cllr Glen Miller was one of the councillors who said he would support the plan.

He said in his 20 years as a councillor, he had never seen a planning application with "so much interest and so much reporting".

Councillors voted six-to-one in favour of the plans.

Afterwards, Martin Millmore, of the Mineral Planning Group, welcomed the outcome.

He said: "It's been one of the hardest planning applications I've ever had to deal with."

Mr Ainsworth said: "The Mineral Planning Group and myself are pleased to see that the planning panel has given approval for our scheme. Our clients are overjoyed with the hard-fought outcome.

"Thanks to everybody for their help and support throughout the application."

But Mr Kosschuk called the decision "perverse", saying he would be fighting to get it called-in by the Government for further examination.

*See this week's Keighley News for further reactions