`Double-Decker' Graves Planned for Packed Cemeteries
Nigel Morris and Danielle Demetriou, The Independent (London, England)
HUMAN REMAINS could be dug up and reburied at a greater depth to free more space in overcrowded cemeteries, the Government said yesterday.
The idea of "doubler-decker" graves - with new coffins laid on top of older bodies - was raised by the Home Office as a way of tackling a looming burial crisis. With more than 150,000 burials every year, pressure is growing on the network of Victorian cemeteries. Some in inner London have been forced to close their gates, and many municipal burial grounds nationwide are nearly full.
The Government admitted yesterday that, without immediate action, the country will soon face serious problems in burying its dead. Launching a consultation document on burial practices, Paul Goggins, a Home Office minister, acknowledged that any move to reuse graves was likely to run into strong resistance, particularly on religious grounds.
Remains would be exhumed and re-interred in a small casket in the so- called "lift and deepen" method, and buried up to three metres deep. Permission to dig them up would only be given if there were no objections from descendants of the dead, if they could be tracked down, and is likely to be limited to remains more than 100 years old. The names of the newly buried could be added to the existing tombstones or new, smaller plaques could be put on the redug graves.
A pilot scheme at City of London Cemetery has identified 188 graves older than 75 years that could be removed. They have been marked with black and yellow tags reading: "Notice: This memorial has been identified for possible reclamation."
People at the 150-year-old cemetery yesterday were uneasy at the thought of reusing graves. Claire Strickland, 36, whose sister and grandmother were both cremated at the ground, said: "I do think it makes sense. There is a logic to what they're proposing because, if you just look around, you can see that there isn't enough room." But she added: "At the same time, there is something quite disturbing about the idea."
The Government said that reusing graves would relieve pressure on space and allow more people to be buried near the …
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Publication information: Article title: `Double-Decker' Graves Planned for Packed Cemeteries. Contributors: Nigel Morris and Danielle Demetriou - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 16, 2004. Page number: 6. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.