Charles Cowling

There was much excitement when Davender Ghai won his case for open-air cremation at the Court of Appeal in February 2010.

It established the legality of the principle of open-air cremation but, as Rupert Callender noted at the time:

“this is only a battle that has been won, not the war. The next impenetrable ring of defence, our Orwellian and inscrutable planning system and our perversely selective Environmental Health department will no doubt dig in for a long siege. For those of us who dream of blazing hilltops lighting up the night sky and illuminating dancing crowds, we still have miles to go before we sleep.” [Source]

In court, the battle raged around the legal definition of a crematorium. Baba Ghai’s lawyers argued: “The expression crematorium should mean any building fitted with appliances for the burning of human remains. ‘Building’ is not defined. We say it should be given a broad meaning.”

When the judgement was delivered, everyone noted the difficulties which could be thrown up by planning and public health legislation should an application be submitted.

Over in India a new, eco-friendly pyre is catching on – the Mokshda green cremation system, a simple heat-retaining and combustion- efficient technology. The Mokshda crematorium is a high-grade, stainless steel and man-sized bier with a hood and sidewall slates that can withstand temperatures of up to 800 degrees Celsius.

It’s a building, all right. That’s encouraging.

But it doesn’t solve the vapourised mercury problem…

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