Larger coffins and new pollutant filters blamed for rise in public crematorium costs

New anti-pollution equipment and larger coffins have resulted in the average cost of cremations at public crematoriums increasing by a third over the last five years, the BBC revealed reported.

According to Freedom of Information responses from local authorities that run crematoriums in the UK, an adult cremation in the UK now costs an average of GBP640.

There are reportedly over 170 local councils that each operate at least one crematorium. In other areas, crematoriums are run by private companies.

Government guidelines to reduce the amount of pollution, in particular from mercury tooth fillings are blamed in part by the majority of council run crematoriums. The cost of installing new technology to comply with new environmental rules has cost between GBP1m and GBP3m, according to Tim Morris from the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM). Morris claimed that many local authorities are running cemeteries at a loss and any surplus money made by crematoriums is used to subsidise burial services.

The BBC reported that the fee for cremating an adult in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, has increased by more than 100%, from GBP359 to GBP721, while cremation fees in Northumberland have increased from GBP407 to GBP695.

However Lichfield local authority has dropped its cremation fees from GBP542 to GBP495, because a newer crematorium had reportedly made the service cheaper to operate.

A spokesman for the Local Government Authority was quoted as saying: “Cremations are not run to make a profit, but meeting the standards bereaved families expect requires continual investment in chapels of rest, grounds maintenance and equipment.

“Meeting environmental targets for crematoria from 2012 has meant local authorities have also had to fit expensive abatement equipment over the last few years.

“Although these factors have pushed up the price of a cremation, these costs represent a relatively small portion of the overall cost of a funeral.”

Clean Bus Technology Fund to award grants to 11 local authorities

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker announced today that GBP5m from the Clean Bus Technology Fund has been awarded to eleven local authorities in towns and cities in England for the upgrade of nearly 400 older buses, helping to clean up emissions in some of the most polluted urban areas.

The clean Bus Technology Fund was launched in June and 31 local authorities outside of Greater London, where air quality does not meet European Commission standards, submitted bids for grants of up to GBP1m to support upgrading buses with pollution-reducing technology.

The entrants were asked to develop new technologies that demonstrated the likelihood of success in improving air quality. They could also use proven technologies, such as exhaust after-treatment and conversion to hybrid propulsion or cleaner low carbon fuels. Within the top 11 local authorities, new technologies included a hybrid flywheel, which can deliver up to 20% fuel reduction and harmful emissions, a gas engine replacement and other innovative modifications.

The projects had to meet 5 criteria: to fit with the objectives of establishing the best technologies and development of the retrofit industry; air quality impact; value for money; deliverability; and if they offered cross-cutting benefits such as encouraging economic growth.

The 11 winning areas are West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive; Merseytravel; Greater Manchester; Southampton City Council; Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council; Suffolk County Council; Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council and Nexus; Lincolnshire County Council and City of Lincoln Council; St Albans City and District Council; Cheshire West and Cheshire Borough Council; and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

The Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said “This funding boost will bring real improvements to air quality around the country which is good news for the environment and our health. I am keen to embrace new technology and encourage local authorities to share their experience so that others can follow suit.”