Alkaline hydrolysis ('water cremation') regulation in Scotland

A Scottish Government consultation on the regulation of alkaline hydrolysis (‘water cremation’) as a method of body disposal in Scotland.

Previous consultation on new methods of disposal including alkaline hydrolysis

16. When consulting on the 2016 Act, we were aware that new methods of disposal of human remains were at varying stages of development around the world. We asked whether respondents agreed that the 2016 Act should include a provision for Scottish Ministers to regulate new techniques in the same way as burial and cremation when they become viable. Of the 135 who responded to this question, 81% agreed, 7% disagreed and 12% didn’t know.

17. A few respondents commented that allowing alternatives to traditional burial or cremation will encourage innovation and could ease the pressure on burial grounds by reducing demand.

18. Consultation responses were also in favour of introducing additional, new, more environmentally friendly procedures. As a result, the Scottish Government included provision in the Bill to allow for regulation of any new methods of body disposal in the same way as we are regulating burial and cremation. This led to section 99 of the 2016 Act which provides for the 2016 Act to apply to new ways of disposing of human remains.

19. In the comments in response to the question in the Bill consultation, there was strong support for the introduction of alkaline hydrolysis. Comments included the need for careful consideration of any environmental impact, that codes of practice for any new method should be produced and that a code of practice for new methods should at least be provided for in the Bill. The environmental impact will continue to be considered as the regulations are developed and will be informed by the consultation responses. A strategic Environment Impact Assessment will be carried out.

20. The 2016 Act provides for codes of practice for burial, cremation and funeral directors. We propose that a similar code of practice would be developed for alkaline hydrolysis.



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