DUNFERMLINE could be without any burial plots in less than 30 years, Fife Council has admitted.

Consultation is to get under way this year to look at ways of addressing cemetery capacity across the Kingdom.

A report from bereavement services manager Liz Murphy said there were growing capacity pressures on cemeteries in Fife.

She said that Dunfermline would be without plots by 2047 while the facilities in Hillend and Douglas Bank have just 18 and 12 years left. Hillend currently has 237 lairs available while there are 128 at Douglas Bank.

No years of capacity remain at Tulliallan, however, which has just one lair left.

A future strategy now has to be planned and the local authority has set aside £6.7 million to address the capacity issue.

On average in Fife, there are around 900 full burials each year as well as the burial of approximately 400 sets of cremated remains.

Around a third of these interments require a new lair to be allocated, however, over the last 20 years, there has been a gradual move away from burial to cremation.

Ms Murphy stated: "While there is a greater general interest in cremation, the council has a responsibility to recognise the differing ethnic minorities and religions present within Fife and to ensure proper provision to meet the specific burial needs of these and communities throughout Fife.

"In addition to conventional burial, interest has grown in recent years in relation to ‘green’ burial where the interment of the deceased is marked with a tree and/or wildflower planting as opposed to a traditional headstone. In time, the site may become a woodland or meadow, enhancing local ecology."

Key criteria to be considered would include how many years' capacity a new provision would offer, how far it is deemed acceptable for mourners to travel, what local ethnic/religious requirements need to be considered and do the demographics of any particular geographical area require a different approach.

The report to the assets and corporate services committee said the council faced several options.

Firstly, do nothing; however, it would mean mourners would have to travel further within Fife over time and all cemetery space will be used by 2100 – only Cupar will have remaining lairs beyond 2064 and the Dunfermline area will be without lairs by 2047.

Secondly, it could reimagine current provision, however, this would be costly and not possible at all sites.

Thirdly, it could extend current provision but limited land availability would mean this isn't an option at all sites.

Fourthly, one site could replace several closed sites but disadvantages cited included land availability and higher capital costs as well as increased travel time for users.

A fifth option was one site for the whole Fife area. This was deemed to be a longer-term solution, however, would involve the highest capital costs, delayed provision for earlier closing sites and increased travel time for most users.

Ms Murphy said that the council monitored cemetery capacity in Fife constantly.

She added: "It's important that we do our best to respect people's wishes and we'll be organising a consultation this year to get views on how we manage future cemetery provision in Fife."