This was the question I was posed by the BBC earlier this week. My response and those of other academics in ‘death studies’, as well as professionals in the funeral industry, can be read on the following BBC Viewpoints: No burial spaces – what should be done?
My response was:
“I would question the received notion that there is a lack of burial space in Britain today. It is not an issue for all regions of the United Kingdom; London being an exception.
There has been a rapid proliferation of natural burial grounds opening in Britain since the late 1990s, so there are now more than 200 grounds of varying sizes. There is the option to be buried in one’s private land, an option usually enjoyed by farmers and other landowners or one can be cremated and have one’s ashes scattered rather than interred.
The underlying issue is not that there is a lack of burial space, rather there is a cultural expectation in Britain that burial is in perpetuity.
On the Continent, cemetery/burial space is managed very differently; in France and Italy for example, plots are leased for 10 to 50 years, thereafter the family can choose to renew the plot for a fee. But here in the United Kingdom, we have remained resistant to any disturbance to graves since the Burial Act of 1857.”