MOURNING families in the North East could be forced to shell out more to say goodbye to their loved ones.
From January 2013, the Government has asked all local authorities to reduce emissions of crematoria mercury from crematoriums by 50%.
But not all crematoriums in the region will be able to meet this criteria and as a result families could see an extra fee added to charges at some crematoriums.
North Tyneside Council have said they are unable to cut emissions at their Whitley Bay and Tynemouth crematoriums due to being unable to fit mercury abatement equipment.
This is because Whitley Bay crematorium is a Grade II listed building and Tynemouth is on the council’s register of buildings of architectural and historic interest.
To meet the regulations, North Tyneside Council is putting together a burden-sharing agreement with Newcastle City Council who are able to fit the necessary equipment at its West Road crematorium.
Under the agreement, which will come into effect from January 2013 and will initially run for two years, North Tyneside will pay Newcastle around £38,160 a year to help with its costs.
To offset this, £40 will be added to the fee charged to funeral directors and cremations will continue to take place at Whitley Bay and Tynemouth.
Northumberland County Council also confirmed they will be entering into a burden sharing scheme with North Tyneside Council.
David Bamford, neighbourhood services manager at Northumberland County Council, said: “Northumberland County Council are unable to install mercury infiltration systems in their crematorium due this being a Grade II-listed building. The council is, however, participating with a neighbouring Tyneside council in their burden sharing scheme.”
This will mean families in Northumberland will also be hit by increased fees. Some families burying loved ones at Durham County Council crematoriums will also have to pay out more.
The council have said that at their crematorium in Dipton they are burden sharing and charges to families will increase, but at Durham Crematorium they are building a new extension and installing new cremators which have mercury abatement equipment.
South Tyneside Council and Gateshead Council are able to fit the necessary equipment to their crematoriums and families should not be hit by an extra charge. Sunderland City Council were unavailable to comment.
Concerns have now been voiced over the future of the two North Tyneside crematoriums in question. Coun Jim Allan, Labour group leader, said: “Even though the cabinet has decided to enter into this agreement, this does not rule out the possibility of one or even both crematoriums closing in the future.”
However the council said there are no plans to close any crematoriums.
A spokesman added: “The pace of technological change in this area is developing rapidly and we believe that better and cheaper solutions could become available in the future.”