On the third day of the P&J’s series on challenges and trends in the funeral sector, Calum Ross finds a dramatic rise in cremations.
Crematoriums have reported soaring use in the north and north-east in recent years as many local graveyards near capacity.
Figures released to The Press and Journal have revealed that the number of cremations at Moray’s Crematorium has increased by 50% since 2012, from 458 to 699 last year.
Inverness Crematorium has also confirmed a 40% rise in use in the last decade, up almost every year from 829 in 2008 to more than 1,150 in 2018.
The figures have emerged just days after the P&J revealed that dozens of cemeteries in the area are running out of space, and councils have banned pre-purchasing of lairs at some sites.
The data suggests that the area is slowly catching up with a nationwide trend.
About 80% of deaths in England and Wales involved cremation in 2016, compared to 68% in Scotland, nearer 50% in Moray, and approximately 40% in Highland.
Rising demand has led to the opening of a new crematorium at Crathes in Aberdeenshire, with another due to be established near Burghead in Moray next year.
The number of cremations each year at Aberdeen’s crematorium, which underwent a £1 million refurbishment in 2018, has remained at between 2,400 and 3,000 throughout the last decade.
After reaching a peak of 2,941 in 2015, the number dropped in the following two years to 2,382 in 2017, after the opening of the new privately-run Baldarroch Chapel and Crematorium at Crathes.
Manager Brian Petrie said the new facility was busier than bosses had anticipated.
“It has got progressively busier over the two-and-a-half years since we opened,” he said.
“I don’t know if that is because of more people using crematoria or us getting more and more welcome engagement with the community.
“Our figures are greater than we predicted they would be initially.
“I can only talk for us, but we get cremations coming in from as far afield as Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Keith – even Shetland.”
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There have been recent calls for Aberdeenshire Council to invest in its own crematorium for the region, but the local authority said there were “currently no plans” for such a development.
Meanwhile, funeral director Dan Ralph said his plans for the new Meadowhillock Crematorium, near Burghead, as well as an associated 1,200-lair graveyard and chapel, would help address any capacity problems in the Moray area.
“Our local graveyards are nearing exhaustion and Meadowhillock will help to alleviate this situation. Burial lairs will soon be available,” he said.
“Meadowhillock Crematorium should be in use towards the end of 2020, and as cremation has become a very popular option, we will be able to provide a complete and cost effective service to the people of Moray.”
Tomorrow: How many are turning away from traditional burials and cremations