Are we running out of burial space?

England is facing an acute shortage of burial space. This situation reflects the inability to reuse burial space, as happens in most Continental countries. An audit of burial space took place in London in 2011. This audit found that many London authorities were facing burial shortages, and often dealt with the issue by maximising land use by digging up pathways and creating additional burial depth by adding topsoil. The situation has not changed.

The problem is not restricted to large metropolitan areas. Burial authorities in rural locations also report problems, for example with financing the purchase of new land for burial and finding suitable land within reasonable distance of the community they need to serve. 

The BBC completed a further survey of England and Wales in 2013, and found that a quarter of the local authorities responding only had sufficient burial space only for the next ten years.

The problem is periodically revisited by the media:

The Guardian 

In Scotland, the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 has made allowance for the ‘restoration to use’ of abandoned lairs (graves). As yet, this legislation has not been implemented.

In 2017 the House of Commons Library published a briefing paper summarising the actions taken by various Governments in response to calls for the re-use of graves.

On 17th December 2017, the Law Commission announced that its 13th Programme of Law Reform would consider ‘a modern framework for disposing of the dead’.