Report finds crematorium not viable for Derry

Ballyoan Cemetery. DER2815MC008
Ballyoan Cemetery. DER2815MC008

A confidential report has recommended against building a multi-million pounds crematorium in Derry at the present time, the Journal has learned.

Those behind the study- which was commissioned back in December 2013 - have now concluded that there was “no economic incentive for Council to develop a crematorium in the present time”.

Ongoing building work continues at the City Cemetery yesterday. DER2815MC007

Ongoing building work continues at the City Cemetery yesterday. DER2815MC007

The Journal has seen a copy of the report, which was developed by an in-house team at Derry City & Strabane District Council, assisted by outside experts. It is understood the team’s findings were brought before Councillors at a private meeting over recent days.

A cost analysis of building a crematorium has been put at around £5m to £6m, with the cost of the loan needed to build it put at £400,000 a year over 25 years. In terms of location, Ballyoan Cemetery in Crescent Link was deemed the most viable option.

However, while in Britain 75% of people are cremated when they pass on, the figure in the north is much lower at around 20%- with all cremations currently carried out at Roselawn i n Belfast. In the Republic, the per centage of people being cremated was even lower at 12%.

Various catchment options were examined, but even taking into account the 3,300 deaths across Derry, Strabane, Donegal, Limavady and Coleraine areas each year, it was found that the number of cremations was unlikely to be sufficient to ensure such a facility would break even.

A number of other planning applications for crematoriums in other areas of the north have been submitted, thereby limiting the likely geographical scope, while traditional religious and cultural practices were also factored in. Even if a crematorium was approved and set up within four years, this would still only result in 100 fewer burial plots in council cemeteries over the following five years.

“A crematorium thus has no impact on the clear need for new cemetery provision in the city in the short term to medium term,” the report states.

Despite finding against a crematorium at this time, the team have however recommended that a long term burial strategy be drawn up which would provide a number of options relating to burial services. This, the team have said, would enable the council to look again in the future at a more feasible option of establishing a crematorium as a council facility or in partnership with a private operator.

Meanwhile, in a separate development it is understood that 350 new plots are to be created at the City Cemetery.