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Malta today 26-11-2012

Crematorium proposed in private ODZ cemetery

Outside-development-zone cemetery for 1,000 graves and crematorium.

A proposal for a 1,000-grave cemetery on a site outside development boundaries along Mdina Road between Attard and Rabat includes plans for Malta's first crematorium, as well as a multi-denominational service room.

Luqa Developments Limited is proposing the project to a company whose directors include Pio Camilleri - formerly a close collaborator of the late Lorry Sant.

The architect of the project is Labour MP Charles Buhagiar.

A project development statement presented by architect firm Med Design to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority states that the cemetery would be the first one in Malta to utilise cremation methods to dispose of the dead, thus resulting in a more efficient use of land.

The cemetery will also include a 6-metre high "service room" described as "a place where people of diverse beliefs could worship in a serene manner".

The cemetery will also include a car park for 75 cars and a small retail outlet selling candles and flowers.

A project development statement presented to MEPA justifies the development.

The developers claim that their aim is to provide the country with a "versatile cemetery".

It also notes that 15% of pending applications for graves hail from Rabat and Attard, two localities whose cemeteries cannot be expanded. 20,000 burials can be accommodated in a 20-year period according to the PDS.

The developers who own the land in question justify the development by describing the site as an "unused bare dump" which is in a "very bad state of abandonment and currently used as a waste dumping area".

The PDS includes photos documenting the bad state of the site. But the study acknowledges that 20% of the site is under cultivation.

In the local plan site is designated as a strategic open gap where no buildings can be developed.

The developers claim that in view of this designation the development of a cemetery is "the best use for the site in question to maximise the commercial potential of the site".

But the local plan forbids any non-agricultural development on the site.

The graves will be lined with a "special composite material" to ensure to prevent the seepage of water from the graves to the water table.  

MEPA's Heritage panel has called for a rejection of the application, as it would involve agricultural land take-up and is adjacent to Wied ta' Rmiedi.

Times of Malta 25-10-2011

Cremation revived as grave alternative

As Malta’s cemeteries become fuller the Health Ministry is considering the introduction of cremation as part of a policy to tackle the growing lack  of burial space.

“The policy aims at addressing the situation in which the demand for more graves is getting bigger every year, and thus considers various solutions and options available... which range from building other graves  and adding grave sites to options such as a crematorium,” a ministry spokesman said.

Currently, cremation is not regulated by law since there are no crematoriums. However, bodies that were cremated abroad have been allowed a normal burial.

The Church does not oppose cremation but recommends that the ashes are buried and not kept in urns or scattered.

At the moment government cemeteries have more than 22,293 graves, 1,776 of which are common.

The bulk of the graves are at Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery where there are 15,538 graves that include 14,329 privately owned and 1,209 common ones.

Until May this year there were 6,748 pending applications to buy graves with 4,029 of the applicants wanting a burial space at the Addolorata. Some applications have been pending for over a decade.

Over the past years the government has been looking at ways to solve the problem of the lack of burial space and come up with various proposals to extend the cemetery.

In 2006 former Health Minister Louis Deguara had announced that some 2,782 graves were to be developed. Three years later his successor, John Dalli, said the previous plans had been scrapped because they did not respect the architectural heritage of the  Paola cemetery.

Mr Dalli, who is now an EU commissioner, announced a massive €33 million extension of 9,000 new graves at the Addolorata to be built over three years.

He said a piece of land had been identified for a crematorium but the government was not interested in actually developing or managing it and would leave this up to the private sector. Mr Dalli also said each new grave would be sold for about €8,000  – an increase of over €4,000 over prices still applicable today.

Despite these promises, no new graves have materialised as yet.

A ministry spokesman said the government was working on the policy to address the problem.

“In fact plans have been laid down for the extension of the Addolorata cemetery which will accommodate about 2,900 graves,” he said adding that it was not possible to give a timeframe for the completion of the policy.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Health Minister Joseph Cassar confirmed that the real cost of a new grave was €8,000 and this will be reflected in amendments to the price order regulating the price of graves at the Addolorata.

The minister said the extension of the Addolorata was still in its initial stage, with workers involved in site clearance.

27-10-2009 Malta

Cremation idea gaining ground

There seems to be a slow move in favour of cremation with both the government and Church saying they do not object to the alternative to burial being requested by a number of mourners.

More than 200 people have joined an online group asking for the introduction of cremation and, earlier this month, Social Policy Minister John Dalli said the government had set aside a zone at the Addolorata Cemetery for the development of a crematorium.

Replying to a parliamentary question, Mr Dalli added that the government was not interested in actually developing or managing the crematorium and would leave that up to the private sector.

In 2002, the firm Malta Crematorium Company Ltd filed an application to build a crematorium at the cemetery and the application is still pending.

There is a pending application to construct a crematorium at the Santa Maria Addolorata CemeteryAccording to the Malta Environment and Planning Authority's website, the application is being assessed in terms of the Structure Plan and other established policies.

Another application was filed in 2005 to construct a crematorium in St Paul's Bay. The application was turned down by Mepa to the relief of residents, who strongly objected to it.

With the Church no longer opposing cremation, it has been considered by some as an alternative to the parcelling of more burial grounds as land where to bury the dead is fast disappearing.

Figures show there are 20,517 private graves in government cemeteries, of which 14,329 are at the Addolorata. There are currently 4,029 applications for graves at the Addolorata where there were more than 1,000 burials between January and August this year.

Earlier this month, Mr Dalli said the Cabinet was considering a proposal to extend the Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery by a further 9,000 new graves.

Reacting to this news, readers resurrected the cremation debate as some claimed it would solve the space problem.

One person wrote "cremation is clean and hygienic" while another said: "I would rather (be cremated) than be chucked into a hole in the rocks, left to rot."

Another reader disagreed with cremation adding: "The main reason I disagree is that, if further forensic examinations need to be carried out on the cause of death, the cadaver cannot be exhumed".

Readers also debated whether building a crematorium would be economically feasible.

More than 200 people joined the Facebook group called Let's Legalise Cremation In Malta in which they called for the introduction of cremation.

One person wrote: "I hate the thought of my body being kept under the ground to get eaten away. I always thought I would wish for my body to be cremated and preferably some of the ashes thrown into the sea."

Currently, cremation is not regulated by law since there are no crematoriums. However, bodies that were cremated abroad have been allowed a normal burial.

This is what is recommended by the Church in case of cremation. The president of the Theological Commission, Hector Scerri, explained that the Church recommended that the custom of burial be retained.

"But it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching... the faithful should be exhorted not to keep the ashes of the dead in their homes, but to bury them in the usual manner," he said.

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