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Cemetery Development Services

Groundwater Risk Assessments

Groundwater Risk Assessments

Environmental Risk Assessments

It is a statutory requirement that measures are taken to protect groundwater from potential pollution sources.  Burial practices give rise to potential sources of pollution and are covered by these regulations.

We provide our clients with comprehensive Environment Agency groundwater risk assessments.

The Tier 1 assessment is a self-collected baseline assessment.  Collect the data required with our guidance and we will then analyse your data to create a report detailing your current situation and recommend actions.

The Tier 2 assessment is for higher risk sites and involves a site investigation from our engineers with the potential for flux and pollution modelling.

The Tier 3 assessment is for site with a very high risk and involves the use of boreholes and long term monitoring on top of investigations conducted in Tier 2.

We will advise at the very earliest stage on whether a site is likely to achieve approval under the EA Guidelines, and whether there will be further spend on design and construction.

3d Digital Terrain Model Map

Environmental Risk Mitigation

CDS offers specialist advice on risk mitigation. The Environment Agency has referred in general terms within its booklet on ‘Assessing the Groundwater Pollution Potential of Cemetery Developments’ to the use of an ‘options appraisal’ which may include ‘reduction of the hazard through new technology, procedures or investment’. There is no objection in principle to the use of methods of the type suggested where it is necessary to mitigate risk, provided that such methods are used in conjunction with a fully considered tiered risk assessment.

CDS have been developing attenuation materials to help where marginal risk of leaching may go against the development of a cemetery.

EMI Soil Scan

EMI Soil Scan

The EMI scan will provide target sampling points from which the soil profile will be analysed for its mineralogy and profile construction. Determining where soil variability exist as well as locating and defining metallic and electrical utilities and potential below ground constructions and obstructions can be extremely beneficial in providing cost benefits through well engineered designs.

The EMI technology was developed in the UK by Martin Peters and Justin Smith and is widely used by other companies however its use is limited in many situations and we would advise potential users to be aware that it can sometimes be used as an expensive marketing tool rather than providing for good field data.

EMI Scanning

It should be noted that EMI surveying depth is limited to 1.5 meters and is therefore only recommended for sites where the location of following is not known.

• Utilities
• Old footings
• Springs
• Archaeology
• Major soil variations

EMI Scan

The illustration shows an EMI scan of a site with the soil texture variation indicated by the dark and light hues anda power utility highlighted by the red hatched line.

If the site in question is known to have utilities within it, and there may be some archaeological interest, it might be advisable that EMI should be used; however, this option is for the client to decide, as it will not affect the EA decision process.


Greywater Management

Greywater Management

► Full Grey Water Management Report

The environment is high on the agenda at all levels of government, industry and public opinion. Whether the issue is global warming, recycling or the protection of groundwater stocks, environmental legislation is impossible to avoid or ignore.

When it comes to protecting our groundwater, the Environment Agency is becoming far more vigilant. Authorities developing new cemeteries or extensions will encounter stringent rules and guidelines that have to be complied with before planning can proceed.

But many burial authorities, particularly if they have not undertaken any cemetery development work recently, are unaware of some of the groundwater and surface water protection directives they should be compliant with.

Whilst many millions of pounds are spent on memorial inspections and repairs as part of an overall health and safety policy, there is little consideration given to fulfilling the authorities’ legal obligation to protect groundwater. However, groundwater protection is statutory under the Water Resources Act. Failure to comply can lead to prosecution if ground or surface water are subsequently polluted. The EA have laid down strict guidelines for the development of new cemeteries, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • Graves should not hold any standing water when dug
  • There should be at least 1 metre between base of grave and water table; more if the soil has high infiltration rates
  • Graves should be at least 250m away from wells and potable water supplies
  • Pumping out of graves and discharging “grey” water directly or indirectly into surface or groundwater sources if found to be polluted is an offence under the Groundwater Regulations 1998
  • No burials within 10 meters of land drains

During the winter months, many authorities pump water out of newly opened graves, often to within a few minutes of the cortege arriving, hoping that the burial ceremony takes less time to complete than the speed of the water to re-enter the grave!

There are a number of reasons why water enters graves. If is not preventable it is a manageable problem – but it must be managed within the guidelines of the law.

It is important therefore, to determine where the water is coming from. There are usually three main sources:

  • Surface water (surface run-off/perching)
  • Ground water (rising water tables and suspended water tables)
  • Inter grave seepage

Grey water and drainage problems can be avoided. Simple management techniques can save tens of thousands of pounds in engineering costs, and a well designed drainage scheme can be both functional and affordable.

Attenuation Products

In some cases where there is a risk of leaching especially in coarse or fractured soils such as sandy, stoney or chalk soil formations or where water tables are near to grave depth, the use of attenuation material can help reduce rapid leaching. Polluting compounds associated with decay process such as ammonium, formalin and other organic pollutants can be absorbed by attenuation compounds which provide a buffer protecting the groundwater below. Attenuation materials include smectite and zeolitic substrates or material of high carbon content such as certain organic composts.

These attenuation materials have very high Cation Exchange Capacity (up to 150 meq/100gms), for example just 1 gram smectic clay may have a reactive surface area of 80 square meters compared to a few square centimetres in a gram of sand. An equivalent 25 mm depth of smectite clay could equate to a depth 2000 mm of sand in terms of their comparative attenuation properties!

These materials can certainly help in situations where high leaching soils pose a potential threat.
Smectite compounds have been advised by the EA for use as an attenuation medium in Southwick Cemetery in West Sussex where thin soils overly a chalk aquifer. CDS have developed “10u8 Z Plus” for the attenuation and reduction of polluting decay compounds. CDS are further researching other materials that have these properties.

Memorial Stability Testing

Memorial Stability Testing

Are you compliant with Health & Safety regulations and insured for accidents involving unstable monuments?

We provide quantifiable monument stability information which is entered in to a bespoke Geographical Information System (GIS) database.

The CDS Management System provides you with independent, secure and qualified data to satisfy the requirements of insurance companies by providing a record of monument testing in a text and mapped format.

The flexibility of the management system provides you with the option of collecting information or attributes associated with each individual monument. This information may include photographs of the monument, details of the grave site, and many more factors that can be collected, mapped and referenced as a permanent electronic record.

Our Service

  • CDS will undertake stability testing either adopting the recent Ministry of Justice Guidelines, or using a transducer tester calibrated to 35 kg or 350 Newtons as specified by the ICCM.

    Monuments will be logged as a pass or fail. On completion the authority will receive a full electronic log in Access or Excel indicating which monuments have passed or failed this could be tailored to suit their format”.

    Memorial Stability Testing

  • CDS hold that stability testing in itself only identifies the problem. Once recognised as being unsafe it is the authority’s duty that prompt action should be taken to make safe any unstable memorials, preferably on the same day of testing.

    Furthermore, recent experience in other cemeteries has highlighted the sensitivity the general public has regarding their burial grounds. The wholesale laying flat of large numbers of failed memorials is both aesthetically and emotionally distressing and in most cases unnecessary.

    As an alternative to laying flat the use of warning tape/bags, safety notices and staking must only be seen as a temporary measure and not a solution to the problem itself.

    Therefore CDS proposes to leave standing and make safe as many memorials as possible.

  • We provide confidentiality agreements for clients to protect all data sources.

    Electronic copies of the database provides you with the opportunity to protect valuable information by having more than one set of data, allowing off-site safe storage.

    We use qualified staff and carry £10 million of Public Liability Insurance, and £1 million Professional Indemnity Insurance.

Pandemic Planning

Pandemic Planning

Flexivault Burial Chambers by Cemetery Development Services

► Flexivault PDF Brochure

The recent scares of Avian and Swine Flu have highlighted the potential risk of a major pandemic. Should the outcome of such a pandemic result in a high mortality rate, Flexivault chambers can provide a genuine burial solution.

The CDS system could be installed under an existing sports ground that can be re-instated for long term play on an improved playing surface. In the event of a pandemic the chambers can be readily accessed for interments without taking soil off site. Either a chip a or numerical identification system can be placed on the one piece lid for rapid post pandemic audits.

Pendemic Planning


Surveys and Mapping

Cemetery Surveys and Mapping

Local Autorities’ Cemeteries Order 1977, No 204

Cemetery maps are a legal requirement

It is a legal requirement for all cemeteries to be able to produce a map (in either paper or electronic format) showing the layout of the cemetery.

As a stand-alone service or part of a custom tailored package we will undertake surveys of cemeteries or convert any existing paper map or written formats into a digital map and geographic information system (GIS) data management package.

A geographic information system provides the foundation for a powerful database helping cemetery managers track vital information about individual grave sites including ownership, monument safety, occupancy and other pertinent data factors. The electronic database can be easily integrated with many councils own GIS system ensuring long-term security of data.

We provide confidentiality agreements for clients to protect all data sources.

Electronic copies of the database provides you with the opportunity to protect valuable information by having more than one set of data, allowing off-site safe storage.

Cemetery Mapping and Memorial Stability Testing


Mapping at Hampstead Cemetery


Mapping at Hampstead Cemetery