Can you scatter ashes anywhere? The answer is no you can’t. The law in UK is very relaxed compared to many countries but you need the landowners permission. Someone landowners are fine and others are not.
As a general rule of thumb the more open and spacious the more likely you are to get permission. For example most urban parks will not allow it because of the high usage and and the space available. London Royal Parks specifically ban the scattering of ashes in any of their parks (eg Hyde Park).
There are a number of large land owners that have stated positions, for example the National Trust (England) has a very positive and progressive approach and will allow scattering on many of of its sites with a few provisos. Beaches are are another popular choice and these, if they are not private, are permissible although we do advise that you consider other users and take a few steps to make your ceremony special, for example holding the ceremony at a quite time of day, don’t scatter where people enter the beach and choose a spot below the high tide line.
A popular misconception is common land, many of think that as it is common this enables us to do pretty much what we like, however this is not the case the common land may be just an ancient right over the land such as grazing sheep. So you will need to check, your local authority is a good start.
The other issue worth pointing out is that the scattering ashes is different to the the burying of ashes. Strange as it may seem they are treated entirely differently whilst scattering rules are permissive, burial rules are not. You can bury if you have the landowner’s permission but you will need to seek the appropriate paperwork from the local authority which will mean the site will be registered. This prevents people buying houses and then unearthing people cremated remains without prior knowledge.
So when people ask to us – “Can you scatter ashes anywhere?”
We say, basically:
- you need permission,
- you should:
- be minded of others
- scatter the ashes widely, as opposed tipping the urn straight up
- not leave anything at the site other than ashes
With some thought you can make it a wonderful memorable ceremony.