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inland waterway cremation ashes

Canal & River Trust policy on scattering ashes

The Canal & River Trust (formerly British Waterways), the organisation that operates and maintains over 2000 miles of inland waterways in England and Wales, have told us their position…

The scattering of human ashes on rivers is regulated by the Environment Agency working with British Waterways. Requests to scatter ashes should be made in the first instance to the Environment Agency who will advise on the suitability of many stretches of waterways in England and Wales.

British Waterways and the Environment Agency regularly receive requests from bereaved families who want to scatter ashes on rivers. Faith groups and individuals follow different traditions and practices when a loved one dies and for some this involves spreading their ashes in rivers and streams. British Waterways does not want to unnecessarily obstruct or interfere with these traditions.

Our role is to maintain safe navigable waterways and to protect their environment. We seek to take account of the needs of diverse groups in the way we carry out our work. As long as the environment is not damaged British Waterways has no objection to these practices.

Ashes themselves have little impact on water quality. However, in-line with guidance provided by the Environment Agency, the environment can be damaged by casting tributes and other items in the water that are not biodegradable. Litter is harmful to wildlife. Many tributes such as flowers are in plastic bags or wreaths that contain plastic or metal. Neither are allowed.

British Waterways and the Environment Agency treat all requests individually and with sensitivity, so that we do not cause further stress to the recently bereaved. Requests will only be refused in cases where there is an unacceptable risk to water quality, if we believe that a proposed location is inappropriate or if the site is in regular use and the environmental impact may need to be reviewed.

12 thoughts on “Canal & River Trust policy on scattering ashes

  1. Reply
    Sara - 1st August 2019

    Can I scatter my Nans ashes to the side of a canal. The canal waterway has a path and then an overgrown bramble, the ashes will go at the base of the overgrown brambles so the ashes are not in or near the waterway. Thank you

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 5th August 2019

      Dear Sara
      Technically you would need permission if you wished to scatter them on the towpath. However you do not need permission to scatter in the canal itself.
      Kind regards
      Richard

  2. Reply
    Claire - 2nd June 2019

    After reading these messages and the site details o should like to scatter my fathers ashes as requested in Walton. If we ensure there are no further items entering the water that could pollute or cause harm is this ok?
    Many thanks
    Claire

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 6th June 2019

      Yes that is fine Claire, as you say making sure that nothing polluting enters the watercourse. If scattering from a bank make sure you are safe whilst scattering.
      Kind regards
      Richard

  3. Reply
    Aimee Jones - 14th May 2019

    Hi. My mother in law requested to be scattered on the canal as this is where she was born and raised. It will be at Galgate and only the ashes and nothing will be scattered over the water.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 20th May 2019

      Dear Aimee
      That should be fine providing you follow the guidance mentioned.
      Kind regards
      Richard

  4. Reply
    Debbie Yates - 21st April 2019

    Good afternoon wonder if you can help please, my father passed away this morning and I am trying to get my organised hat on to keep busy. He always wanted his ashes to be scattered in a river, estuary, lake etc (some body of water) as he was mad about the water.
    Could you please let me know if I have your permission to do this when the time comes

    Many thanks

    Mrs Debbie Yates

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 23rd April 2019

      Dear Debbie
      You don’t need any specific permission. There are a few rules, this is our main page on the subject – Scattering on Water: https://scattering-ashes.co.uk/help-advice/permission/sea-river/

      I hope this helps
      Regards
      Richard

  5. Reply
    Gillian Phillips - 5th November 2018

    Is it ok to scatter my mum & dad’s ashes in the Brecon canal as they had a long boat for many years in golden and loved spending every weekend on their narrow boat.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 6th November 2018

      Dear Gillian
      The answer is yes, providing the above guidance is adhered to.
      Regards
      Richard

  6. Reply
    Vance Turnbull - 24th August 2018

    Is it okay to scatter my Dad’s ashes over a canal this will be all that’s distributed over the water nothing else

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 3rd September 2018

      Yes it is fine, please do not place anything non-biodegradable in the water. Thank you

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