WORK has started on a new cemetery which aims to ease the growing shortage of graves in the New Forest.

The site near the entrance to Southampton Water will be used to provide the Forest with enough burial plots for the next 30 years.

Proposals submitted by the district council were approved by the National Park Authority almost two years ago.

The cemetery will be built on land once occupied by a military camp called Eaglehurst.

It housed servicemen based at the Royal Naval Air Station Calshot, which later became RAF Calshot and is now Calshot Activities Centre.

In 1961 the camp was used to accommodate more than 200 people evacuated from Tristan da Cunha after a massive volcanic eruption rocked the island.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the council bought the site and drew up proposals to provide hundreds of new graves over the next three decades.

Planning permission for the new cemetery was granted by the National Park Authority in December 2016.

A report produced by planning officers said almost all the military buildings on the site were demolished at the end of the 20th century.

Speaking at the time the council leader, Cllr Barry Rickman, said: “I’m pleased that permission has been granted for this much-needed burial space for the area.

“This will also see improved access to a site that is rich in history and wildlife.”

Calshot Residents’ Association had objected to the scheme, claiming the site should be used to provide a public house, shops or housing.

But the report said no alternative applications had been received and “little weight” could be attached to the objection.

The cemetery, due to open next spring or summer, will be big enough to provide at least 500 graves.

Cllr Alison Hoare, the council’s cabinet member for environment and regulatory services, visited the site to watch contractors start work on the project.

She said: “Being able to lay to rest loved ones close to home is something families in the district value highly and, with Blackfield cemetery approaching capacity, I am pleased work is starting on this site to meet the requirements of the local residents.”

Calshot was originally used by the Royal Flying Corps, which later merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to become the RAF.

In 1929 the base was used as the venue for the famous Schneider Trophy air race.

Earlier this year a memorial service was held at All Saints Church, Fawley, to mark the 90th anniversary of a legendary pilot who was based at Calshot.

Samuel Kinkead was killed during an attempt to become the first man to travel at more than five miles a minute.