Attempts could be made to claw back unused lairs as a “crisis” looms in Argyll over lack of burial spaces.
More than half of the area’s 131 cemeteries are effectively full.
Only 65 of the cemeteries remain available for the purchase of new lairs and 66 are already closed to the sale of lair spaces with only re-openings of existing lairs
where depth remains or for the interment of ashes.
Billy McClymont of Mull Funeral Services, said: “Beadoun Cemetery in Tobermory has only around seven lairs left to buy. There are some cemeteries on Mull with capacity but Calgary is full, Salen is only three years off being at full capacity.
“There is definitely a crisis. It is very sad for communities, people want to be buried in their own area. If there is no facility there it is quite disappointing.”
Of the 65 cemeteries with lair space, a number of sites are expected to run out of space during the next five years.
In papers before Argyll and Bute Council’s Environment Development and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday, details of the situation are revealed.
The committee is being asked to agree that a community consultation into a number of proposals being suggested by officers be held.
One idea is to provide additional lairs at burial sites, but this will be assessed on a case by case basis.
Another idea proposed is that lairs are sold with an option for the council to take back the lair if not used in 50 years from the date of purchase.
In his report to the committee, Hugh O’Neill, network and standards manager, Roads and Infrastructure Services, writes: “From available records there are some 8,000 available unused lairs across Argyll and Bute’s cemeteries.
“There are also some additional 1,439 lairs which have been sold but not used with 70 years having elapsed since the sale, these remain empty.
“It is proposed that further research is carried out to firm up on the viability of seeking to claim back the unused lairs in areas where there is a shortage of lairs. Given the passage of time since the lairs were registered it would be an extensive piece of work tracing relatives and owners, many simply would be unlikely to be traced. However, it is suggested that it would be worth researching this further and reporting back on findings.”
Costs have been investigated into providing a second crematorium in north Argyll to provide an alternative to burial. However with an estimate of £7-10 million, this is not deemed a viable option.
The existing crematorium in Argyll is at Helensburgh.