Dunfermline Press

Fife is running out of space in cemeteries

Council officials set to look at recovering unused burial plots

- By Ally McRoberts Reporter amcroberts@dunfermlin­epress.co.uk

BURIAL plots that have been sold and not used are set to be reclaimed by Fife Council as their cemeteries are filling up.

They also want to stop the pre-sale of lairs, extend their sites where they can and find land for new developmen­ts as there’s no more room in almost half of their graveyards.

Fife Council have 115 cemeteries but only 61 are ‘active’ - where there are still regular burials - the remaining 54 are historical or full and are maintained only.

A new bereavemen­t strategy for 2023-28 has been proposed and councillor­s were told the “immediate priority” is the sites where they’re running out of space to bury the dead.

A report explained: “Within the next 20 years, 16 cemeteries are nearing capacity, 11 cemeteries have less than 10 years, seven cemeteries have less than five years.

“Seven cemeteries are nearing capacity within the next 30 years and 28 cemeteries have more than 40 years capacity.

“Most of these serve smaller communitie­s.”

The council ran an online consultati­on in January and February.

Among the possible options put forward, participan­ts backed the idea of extending existing cemeteries, where possible, and one site replacing several closed sites where suitable land can be identified.

The consultati­on also showed “growing interest” in ‘green’ burials where, instead of a traditiona­l headstone, the resting place is marked by a tree and / or wildflower planting, and improving biodiversi­ty at the sites.

With available capacity shrinking all the time, the council aim to stop the presale of lairs and reclaim plots that were sold over 50 years ago and have never been used, providing no successors are found.

As well as green burials, they’ll also look into improving areas set aside for the dispersal of cremated remains.

Bereavemen­t services manager Liz Murphy said: “There is capital funding available over the next 10 years for cemetery developmen­t and also developmen­t of any extensions.

“That said, available what is will probably only allow us to provide an additional fourto-five cemeteries as well as developing any extensions and other approved infrastruc­ture works within cemeteries.”

She told councillor­s that, according to national statistics, around 78 per cent of people expressed a preference for cremation but there was still a steady demand for burial.

Ms Murphy continued: “Some people, for religious reasons, are always going to want burial.

“You then get into the realms, I suppose, of fees and charges would be one possible way of encouragin­g people to go for cremation rather than burial.

“You also have the alternativ­e and that’s possibly where we’re coming from with the strategy in that we have 115 sites.

“Of those around 60 are active, some are large, some are small but even if one reaches capacity there is usually something else relatively close that could be used.

“It comes down to people’s personal preference and it’s how much we can influence that I suppose.” The South and West Fife area committee was told that Hillend is being looked at for a possible extension but this wasn’t possible at Kincardine as the ground conditions were not suitable according to SEPA guidelines.

Ms Murphy added: “We’ve looked at two or three sites in the Tulliallan / Kincardine area but we could be struggling again to find something that suits the requiremen­ts of SEPA.

“We will continue to look.” Cllr Graeme Downie said concerns have been raised about the lack of maintenanc­e at Kincardine Cemetery and added: “There was also a slightly upsetting incident, that was reported in the Press as well, about a wreath being run over while maintenanc­e was being undertaken.”

Ms Murphy said steps are being taken to address maintenanc­e issues and she added: “We are aware of the issues and have dealt with the issues raised on the back of that incident.”

According to the council, Dunfermlin­e and Hillend cemeteries are set to run out of space in less than 20 years, Douglas Bank at Pattiesmui­r has less than four years and Kincardine less than three.

At the other end of the scale, there are sites in Aberdour, Saline, Torryburn and Dalgety Bay where they can continue to bury the dead for around 40 to 50 years.

Culross has capacity for just under 30 years.

Cemeteries that have closed include sites in Culross, Torryburn, Crombie, Carnock, Saline, Cairneyhil­l, Dunfermlin­e Abbey, North Queensferr­y, Rosyth, Inverkeith­ing, Mossgreen and Aberdour.

 ?? Image: Newsquest ?? TIME IS RUNNING OUT: There is ‘shrinking capacity’ at Fife Council’s cemeteries.
Image: Newsquest TIME IS RUNNING OUT: There is ‘shrinking capacity’ at Fife Council’s cemeteries.
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