Ceme­ter­ies are run­ning out of space

Be­reaved fam­i­lies could soon be told loved ones can’t be buried nearby as grave­yards full

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE - BY CALUM ROSS

SHOCK fig­ures have re­vealed that ceme­ter­ies across the north and north­east are on the brink of run­ning out of space for new graves.

A loom­ing ca­pac­ity cri­sis at grave­yards could af­fect dozens of com­mu­ni­ties – in­clud­ing El­gin, Keith, Al­ness, Ding­wall, Dornoch, Kin­gussie, El­lon and Ban­chory.

The short­age has al­ready forced coun­cils to tell res­i­dents they can­not buy lairs un­til they die – and one lo­cal author­ity has even con­sid­ered bury­ing the dead un­der ceme­tery paths.

The find­ings of a Press and Jour­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion last night trig­gered calls for coun­cils to take ur­gent ac­tion.

Politi­cians warned that any de­lay risked the “un­think­able con­se­quence” that griev­ing fam­i­lies could soon face the fresh heart­break of be­ing told there is no room at full-up ceme­ter­ies for their loved ones.

Coun­cils in­sisted plans are in place for many sites, but ad­mit­ted they are un­der “pres­sure” to act on ceme­tery pro­vi­sion.

But to­day, the P&J has pub­lished data on our web­site of ev­ery ceme­tery in north­ern Scot­land run by coun­cils, which shows there are more than 150 ceme­ter­ies with fewer than 100 lairs re­main­ing – in­clud­ing more than half of all the grave­yards still in use in Highland and more than 40% of those in Mo­ray and Aberdeen­shire.

Grave­yards are on the brink of run­ning out of space for new buri­als in dozens of com­mu­ni­ties across the north and north-east, it can be re­vealed. A Press and Jour­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion has ex­posed a loom­ing ca­pac­ity cri­sis af­fect­ing ceme­ter­ies in al­most ev­ery cor­ner of north­ern Scot­land.

The short­age of graves is poised to hit ru­ral vil­lages as well as sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tion cen­tres – in­clud­ing El­gin, Keith, Al­ness, Ding­wall, Dornoch, Kin­gussie, El­lon and Ban­chory.

Last night, lo­cal politi­cians de­manded ur­gent ac­tion to avert the “un­think­able” prospect that be­reaved fam­i­lies will soon be told they can not bury loved ones nearby be­cause grave­yards are full.

Ca­pac­ity con­cerns have al­ready led to a ban on res­i­dents buy­ing lairs in ad­vance at El­gin, as well as in some ar­eas of Aberdeen, Aberdeen­shire and the High­lands and is­lands.

And Mo­ray Coun­cil has even con­sid­ered bury­ing the dead un­der ceme­tery paths at some sites, as it is strug­gling to find the cash to pay for ex­ten­sions.

Mo­ray MP Dou­glas Ross said: “This is some­thing that has been raised with me by con­stituents who are ex­tremely con­cerned about the fu­ture.

“If plans are not taken for­ward, this could have the un­think­able con­se­quence that some fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties may not have the choice to bury their loved ones where they want to, if there are no plots avail­able.

“Clearly, that can­not be al­lowed to hap­pen and ac­tion needs to be taken to tackle this.”

As we launch a week-long series to­day on the chal­lenges faced by fam­i­lies as they come to say good­bye to loved ones, the P&J has pub­lished data on our web­site on ev­ery ceme­tery in north­ern Scot­land run by coun­cils.

It shows that there are more than 150 ceme­ter­ies with fewer than 100 lairs re­main­ing – in­clud­ing more than half of all the grave­yards still in use in the High­lands, and more than 40% of those in Mo­ray and Aberdeen­shire.

A to­tal of 58 grave­yards have fewer than 30 un­sold spa­ces left, while 19 have 10 or fewer lairs still to be bought.

Ac­cord­ing to Highland Coun­cil fig­ures, there are just 12 un­sold graves in Al­ness, 39 in Arder­sier, three in Ari­saig, four in Canis­bay, six at Chapel­hill by Nigg, 20 in Croy, 23 at Daviot, six at Dores, 30 at Dun­ve­gan, 10 at Fod­derty, and 10 at Petty-Tor­na­grain.

There are only 20 re­main­ing at Pron­cy­nain in Dornoch, 52 at Kin­gussie, 117 at Mitchell Hill in Ding­wall, and 159 at Ros­keen near In­ver­gor­don.

Skye, Lochaber and Bade­noch MSP Kate Forbes said some of her con­stituents had con­tacted her about the sit­u­a­tion and were “un­der­stand­ably wor­ried”.

“Lo­cal burial grounds are in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant places, with most peo­ple wish­ing to be buried in the vil­lage or town they call home,” she said.

“In light of these fig­ures, I hope that Highland Coun­cil is look­ing ahead and mak­ing plans to en­sure that ca­pac­ity is not an is­sue in the near fu­ture in any part of the High­lands.”

In Orkney, there are a dozen lairs re­main­ing un­sold at Stron­say, 13 at San­day, four at Or­phir, 12 at Holm and 11 at Graem­say.

And on Shet­land there are 15 lairs re­main­ing at Kirk­abis­ter, six at

“If plans are not taken for­ward, this could have the un­think­able con­se­quence that some fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties may not have the choice to bury their loved ones where they want to”

Laxo­big­gin, 14 at Vidlin, 24 at Voe, 19 at Twatt and two at South White­ness.

In Aberdeen­shire, El­lon has room for 70 coffins and eight cas­kets, In­verurie has space for 24 cas­kets and 82 coffins, Daviot has space for 15, and Ban­chory has just 19 plots re­main­ing.

Lo­gie Buchan has 47 spa­ces un­sold, there are 51 at Cru­den Bay, Blairdaff has 16, Echt and In­sch both have 22 lairs re­main­ing, and there are 10 at Kei­th­hall, 39 at Kinel­lar, 40 at both Mony­musk and Al­vah, and 10 at Auchin­doir.

Stra­chan has 14 lairs left, Birse has eight, Tar­land has nine, Tul­lich and Ar­buth­nott both have 13, while there are 18 at John­shaven, and one grave re­main­ing at St Devenicks on the Hill.

Robert Mackie, a Peter­head-based fu­neral direc­tor, said some lo­cal ceme­ter­ies were “run­ning very low” and re­quired ex­ten­sions.

He added: “It’s the small, ru­ral ones that need to be looked at. And there is a short­age com­ing up in El­lon Ceme­tery.”

Fig­ures for Mo­ray date back to April last year when El­gin had 251 spa­ces re­main­ing and was ex­pected to be full in six years, while Broomhill in Keith had 233 lairs left and would be at ca­pac­ity in 11 years, and Lossiemouth would run out of room in 13 years.

There were also 94 lairs left at Bel­lie in Fochabers, and 16 at Knockando.

Aberdeen city is now only cre­at­ing new lairs at three of its 17 ceme­ter­ies, with space for 700 re­main­ing at both Dyce and Ne­whills, and for 4,000 lairs at Ha­zle­head.

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