BURIAL plots that have been sold and not used are set to be reclaimed by Fife Council as their cemeteries are filling up.

They also want to stop the pre-sale of lairs, extend their sites where they can and find land for new developments as there's no more room in almost half of their graveyards.

Fife Council have 115 cemeteries but only 61 are 'active' - where there are still regular burials - the remaining 54 are historical or full and are maintained only.

A new bereavement strategy for 2023-28 has been proposed and councillors were told the "immediate priority" is the sites where they're running out of space to bury the dead.

A report explained: "Within the next 20 years, 16 cemeteries are nearing capacity, 11 cemeteries have less than 10 years, seven cemeteries have less than five years.

"Seven cemeteries are nearing capacity within the next 30 years and 28 cemeteries have more than 40 years capacity.

"Most of these serve smaller communities."

Central Fife Times: More people are opting for cremation but councillors were told there's still a 'steady demand' for burial.More people are opting for cremation but councillors were told there's still a 'steady demand' for burial. (Image: Newsquest)

According to the council, Dunfermline cemetery is set to run out of space in less than 20 years, Cowdenbeath has less than 10 years and Ballingry less than five.

At the other end of the scale, there are sites in Lochgelly and Kinglassie where they can continue to bury the dead for just under 50 years.

Cemeteries that are closed and already full include those in Ballingry, Cowdenbeath, Auchterderran, Mossgreen and Kinglassie.

Bereavement services manager Liz Murphy told Cowdenbeath area committee last week: "There is capital funding available over the next 10 years for cemetery development and also development of any extensions.

"That said, what is available will probably only allow us to provide an additional four-to-five cemeteries as well as developing any extensions and other approved infrastructure works within cemeteries."

She added: "We've looked at a number of sites. We've looked at sites in the Ballingry area and we have a potential site we're also looking at near Cowdenbeath which on paper looks good.

"It depends on how these things progress."

To gather views on the grave issues facing them, the council ran an online consultation in January and February.

Among the possible options put forward, participants backed the idea of extending existing cemeteries, where possible, and one site replacing several closed sites where suitable land can be identified.

The consultation also showed "growing interest" in 'green' burials where, instead of a traditional headstone, the resting place is marked by a tree and / or wildflower planting, and improving biodiversity at the sites.

With available capacity shrinking all the time, the council aim to stop the pre-sale of lairs and reclaim plots that were sold over 50 years ago and have never been used, providing no successors are found.

As well as green burials, they'll also look into improving areas set aside for the dispersal of cremated remains.

According to national statistics, around 78 per cent of people expressed a preference for cremation but there is still a steady demand for burial.

Improvement works for Cowdenbeath Cemetery were announced in the summer but concerns about a lack of maintenance and general upkeep were raised at the meeting. 

Cllr Mary Lockhart also said the cemetery in Ballingry "regularly experiences flooding" and added: "Few things can be more upsetting than going to a cemetery and seeing the flowers from a recent funeral bobbing on the water."

The committee was told that the council are undertaking work at the local primary school and the cemetery to try and tackle flooding issues in the area.