A SYNAGOGUE has been plunged into a burial crisis after plans to extend a cemetery in Edgware were rejected last night.

Environmentalists clapped the decision by Barnet Council's planning committee after telling councillors there were a pair of extremely rare hobby falcons mating near the Edgwabury Lane site.

However, Michael Derbyshire, an agent for the Belsize Park synagogue, admitted the group does not have a “plan B” and are struggling for burial plots after Christmas.

He said: “Expansion of the existing cemetery means we can use the existing facilities without the need for new buildings. It will be just a cemetery.”

He said the Belsize Park synagogue, which shares the site with three other Jewish groups, could not share space left in their sections, saying: “To put it simply, it's the difference between liberal and progressive Judaism.

“A lot of people in this borough use the synagogue. There is substantial support from residents in Barnet and north London,” he added.

However, members of the London Wildlife Trust and the RSPB spoke against the plans, which they said would have seen part of Clay Lane concreted over and hedgerows disturbed.

Robert Husband, the chairman of the north west London RSPB, told the meeting there are a pair of hobby falcons nesting in trees close to the planned site, and would be scared off by the work.

He added: “Bury Farm remains untouched and unaffected by urban sprawl because of its Green Belt protection. If BBC Springwatch needed a new location, the farm would be a good choice.”

Clive Cohen, a member of the Barnet group of the Wildlife Trust told the councillors: “We do not want to lose these precious fields to graveyards forever.

“The last thing in the world children are being taught in schools is to destroy nature conservation and wildlife which this is going to do.”

He added a colony of bats had also been found on the site and said there had not been a report into how any changes would affect them.

Only Cllr Darrel Yawitch, who represents the Edgware ward, voted for the plans, which would have seen one field converted for use immediately and one left untouched for 30 years.

Four councillors, Jeremy Davies, Hugh Rayner, Claire Farrier and Maureen Braun opposed the plans and two, Cllrs Agnes Slocombe and Gill Sargeant abstained from the vote.