Suburbs on the city's fringe will become the "dumping ground for the corpses of Sydney" as burial space fuels a spike in new cemeteries, say concerned residents.
On one road in western Sydney, three cemeteries and a crematorium have been mooted.
The flurry of activity has triggered fears of air and water contamination, traffic congestion, devalued properties and the destruction of views.
Residents near a proposed crematorium at Luddenham fear fireworks from Chinese ceremonies will spook bulls and cause them to "charge people" and particles from crematoriums will poison livestock and threaten food supplies.
But the industry says effects on suburbs can be managed, and the head of a state government review says planned reforms will address community fears.
The government predicts all eight major cemeteries on public land in Sydney will reach capacity by 2035.
It plans to introduce a new consolidated cemeteries and crematoria law next year and is exploring the reuse of burial sites.
Cemetery expansions have been mooted at Randwick, Rookwood and Woronora, and at Orange and Kempsey. A new cemetery is proposed at Blaxlands Ridge in the Hawkesbury. On Greendale Road near Bringelly, two cemeteries and a crematorium have been approved and another cemetery is before the Land and Environment court.
Resident Duncan McDonald said proposals were being considered in isolation when "the total effect is disastrous". Run-off from the sites could flow into streams and dams used on local chicken farms, and particles from crematorium smoke could affect air quality and poison rainwater supplies.
"People [here] have chosen a rural lifestyle, and it has become a dumping ground for the corpses of Sydney," Mr McDonald said.
Armen Mikaelian, the president of the Australasian Cemeteries and Crematoria Association, conceded that cemeteries could affect water and air quality and create traffic and noise problems, but these could be avoided by proper planning and the use of modern equipment. "Cemeteries are a very important part of our lives and they should be given appropriate allocation of land," he said.
David Harley, the chair of a committee developing the government reforms, said better cemetery planning would avoid "the sorts of problems that we have now".