Green light for re-using old graves

Councils will be allowed to exhume bodies and re-use graves because of a shortage of cemetery space, ministers have said.

Officials will normally be able to re-use burial plots which are more than 100 years old after seeking permission from surviving relatives.

But there could be a case for exhuming corpses after just 75 years “where available space is particularly short”, said the Ministry of Justice. And families who object to a relative’s grave being re-used will be allowed to defer the exhumation for “at least” a generation, justice minister Harriet Harman said.

The preferred way of re-using graves would be a “double decker”-style approach which involves lifting existing remains, deepening the grave and laying a new coffin on top.

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