Alkaline Hydrolysis (water cremation) regulation: consultation analysis report

Analysis report of our consultation on the regulation of Alkaline Hydrolysis in Scotland (water cremation).

Executive Summary

Between 25 August and 17 November 2023 the Scottish Government undertook an online consultation on proposals for regulating alkaline hydrolysis under section 99 of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016 (‘the 2016 Act’). If implemented, this would create a legislative framework setting out the required administrative procedures for this method of body disposal.

This consultation was published as part of a collection of four consultations relating to the content of various sets of regulations that are intended to be made under sections of the 2016 Act which have not yet been implemented. They related to:

The consultation was comprised of 16 questions and collected information in both survey and open-ended comment format. There were 64 responses to the consultation (24 from organisations and 40 from individuals). The analysis of responses was conducted in late 2023/ early 2024.

Main Findings

The majority of respondents (84%) support the introduction of regulation to allow alkaline hydrolysis to be made available in Scotland. Respondents fed back that environmental considerations, increased options for disposal, personal preference and cost were factors in their support. There was also feedback that commented on a need for further research on the environmental impact of alkaline hydrolysis in comparison to other methods of disposing of human remains.

There was strong support for regulation of alkaline hydrolysis to follow a similar approach to that already in place for cremation, including processes for opening new facilities, the inspection of operators, requirements for handling human remains and requirements relating to statutory registers. Similarly there was strong support for application processes to be in line with those used in cremation with similar statutory application forms to be provided.

In addition there was support for alkaline hydrolysis to be considered as an option open to local authorities in cases where they are making arrangements under section 87 of the 2016 Act, while still considering any preferences expressed by the deceased and the bereaved. There were very mixed views and levels of support for the potential of other sustainable disposal methods such as fertiliser use to be introduced, with some strongly supportive and others strongly opposed.

Next Steps

Following this analysis of the consultation responses, the Scottish Government will consider the proposals for the intended introduction of alkaline hydrolysis in its development of draft regulations. The results of this analysis will also be considered in relation to the responses received to the other three public consultations which were published in parallel to the alkaline hydrolysis consultation in Autumn 2023.



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