Concern over shortage of burial plots due to coronavirus

Plans for a new cemetery in South Lanarkshire were scuppered after it was discovered the site didn’t meet Sepa guidelines.

Concern over shortage of burial plots due to coronavirus Pixabay

A lack of new burial plots in South Lanarkshire has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Plans for a new cemetery opposite South Lanarkshire Crematorium were scuppered after it was discovered the site didn’t meet Sepa guidelines.

That has left the council’s remaining cemeteries with “reducing availability”, a problem that has only been multiplied by coronavirus.

In South Lanarkshire, 282 people have died after contracting the virus.

Concerned resident Williamina Brown wanted to highlight the problem in Blantyre because of the limited availability at Priestfield Cemetery.

She said: “Priestfield Cemetery in High Blantyre is now almost full to capacity and now has very few, if any, new burial plots/unopened burial lairs available for sale or use by grieving families who have just lost relatives or will lose relatives during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The local authority did have plans to open a brand new replacement cemetery.

“They were going to buy the open fields that are situated on the other side of Sydes Brae from South Lanarkshire Crematorium. 

“However, no new cemetery was ever built on this site.

“If we get a second spike of this coronavirus pandemic in the coming winter, it will only add to the burden on grieving relatives who will lose loved ones.

“Each local authority in Scotland has a legal duty to provide burial plots for use and for sale in their local area. 

“We may be in danger of running out of burial plots/burial lairs in the Blantyre area in the very near future.”

Each local authority in Scotland is legally obliged to provide one burial ground and South Lanarkshire Council currently looks after 50 across the region.

Head of facilities, waste and grounds services, Alistair McKinnon, said: “We are aware of the reducing availability in Priestfield Cemetery and across all council-managed cemeteries, particularly as the effects of the current coronavirus take effect.

“We continue to investigate availability of suitable land across a range of areas and the location opposite the entrance to the crematorium was one such area.

“However, it did not meet the Sepa guidelines for a suitable cemetery site and the suggestion was discounted at this time.

“While the council takes every opportunity to continue to provide burial ground in a number of towns and villages across South Lanarkshire our legal obligation is to provide one burial ground within the area of the local authority.”

By Local Democracy Reporter Stephen Bark

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