More than half of city’s cemeteries ‘will be full’ by 2023

More than half of Edinburgh graveyards will be full within 5 years. Picture: Greg Macvean
More than half of Edinburgh graveyards will be full within 5 years. Picture: Greg Macvean
Have your say

OVER half the council-operated cemeteries in the capital are in danger of being completely full in the next five years.

City bosses anticipate six burial grounds under local authority control will be at capacity by 2023, according to a new report.

Figures obtained via freedom of information legislation found both Portobello and Queensferry cemeteries are estimated to be completely filled in the next ‘two to three years’.

The request also revealed council chiefs expect Corstorphine Hill, Craigmillar Castle Park, Rosebank and Saughton cemeteries to be full in around four to five years time.

The findings come just a month after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published a report detailing a two per cent rise in the death rate across Scotland during 2017.

A spokeswoman for the local authority said they were reviewing burial capacity in the capital, but a leading funeralcare provider warned grieving families would be hit hardest by a clamour for spaces.

In December 2017, research by Citizens’ Advice Scotland found the median charge for a basic burial in the Capital rose to £2340 over the year – an increase of nearly four per cent and almost £1000 more than the Scottish average, making Edinburgh the most expensive place in the country to die.

And Andrew Brown, head of operations for Co-op Funeralcare warned the scramble for burial plots was a leading cause of skyrocketing burial charges.

He said: “There are a range of factors contributing to rising burial costs in Scotland and from experience, we have seen costs increase due to lack of space and a consequent rise in the cost of land.

“Budget pressures faced by local authorities also have an impact, as in the vast majority of cases the authorities are responsible for setting the fees.”

Research by insurance provider Royal London year found the average cost of a funeral in Scotland now stands at £3598.

Mr Brown added that the charges were convincing more families to opt for other memorials rather than traditional burial services. He said: “After London, Scottish families are the most likely to face higher than average funeral costs.

“In recent years we’ve seen a growing trend for families opting for cremation rather than burial, based on both rising costs and personal preference.”

Figures released by the ONS in June found the number of registered deaths in Scotland rose by 1155 to 57,883 over the year – around 5000 more than the number of births.

Four other burial grounds, Currie Churchyard and Kirkliston, Morningside and Ratho cemeteries are operated by the local authority. But all are projected to have enough space to cope with demand for burials for at least the next 12 years.

A city of Edinburgh Council spokeswoman said: “We are confident that the needs of the City will be met for the foreseeable future. We are reviewing the requirements for burial capacity and are developing a strategy to ensure the continued provision of this vital service.”