The background

Early in 2000 the cremation movement was informed by the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions (DETR) that the review of the Secretary of State’s Process Guidance, Crematoria PG5/2 (95) may well introduce a requirement for flue gas cleaning equipment to be fitted to all cremators.

In March of that year the Federation of British Cremation Authorities (now the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities) (FBCA) held a seminar at the NEC in Birmingham to discuss various issues surrounding the question of mercury abatement at crematoria. The seminar dealt with matters, which DETR had proposed to include in the 2000 review of the Secretary of State’s Guidance Notes, to bring about the elimination of emissions of mercury during the cremation process.

Following the seminar a questionnaire was given to all cremation authorities for completion.  The results were subsequently analysed and given to DETR for their consideration. The results from the questionnaire analysis identified that 23% of all crematoria would be forced to close, for a variety of site specific reasons if abatement of all cremators was to be a requirement of the new Guidance Notes.

As a consequence of the results of the survey, the Government agreed on a compromise approach whereby the cremation movement would be required to meet a target of abating mercury emissions by 50% rather than 100% as previously suggested.

How this 50% target would be achieved posed a problem for the Government with one option being a ‘command and control’ regulation requiring those crematoria carrying out the highest number of cremations to abate in order to achieve the 50% target. This procedure was seen as being unfair to those crematoria and it was estimated that 33% of cremation authorities would be carrying the burden for the whole of the cremation movement in the UK.

The concept of ‘burden sharing’ was proposed by the Department of the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in 2004. The FBCA embraced the concept and together with The Cremation Society of Great Britain commissioned a ‘road map’ to illustrate how burden sharing agreements could work.

The industry’s proposals to establish CAMEO as an organisation to oversee the implementation of the burden sharing principle was accepted by Government and, in 2005, DEFRA published Air Quality Note AQ1(05), requiring 50% of all cremations at existing crematoria to be subject to mercury abatement. The target date for implementation was to be 31 December 2012.