The venue will be an alternative to Roselawn in south Belfast, which itself is currently subject to expansion plans.
The lack of crematoria in the Province has long meant Roselawn is stretched to the limit, forcing the crematorium to work far beyond its intended capacity.
The new facility will be on the rural outskirts of Newtownabbey.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s most recent planning committee meeting saw a minor amendment to the plans (altering a traffic turning point) approved.
With that now out of the way, things look set to proceed apace, with the council telling the News Letter that construction is planned to commence in September.
“Plans are that the Crematorium will be completed around December 2022/January 2023, and it will accommodate in the region of 840 cremations per annum,” the council said.
The crematorium will be owned and operated by the council.
It will be sited directly opposite Ballyearl Arts and Leisure Centre on the Doagh Road, on the edge of Mossley.
Cremation has a somewhat bizarre history in the Province.
Roselawn was originally built in 1961, and was designed for an estimated 700 cremations per year – but now deals with more than 3,500 (which, assuming the crematorium was running every single day of the year, would amount to an average of 9.6 per day).
Right now, a new and bigger crematorium is planned there, with four instead of three furnaces, and two ceremony rooms instead of one.
However there has long been confusion around whether any other crematoria are legally allowed to operate in Northern Ireland.
For example, here is how England-based charity The Cremation Society describes Northern Ireland’s law:
The Belfast Corporation (General Powers) Act 1948 permitted the city corporation (the archaic name for its council) “to provide and maintain a crematorium”.
Then in 1961, Stormont passed a law setting out the precise rules governing how a crematorium should work (who should supervise it, what should be done with the ashes, etc) – and at this time, Roselawn began operation.
By 1985, a change in the law allowed other councils in Northern Ireland to establish crematoria – but, the society adds, “until further legislative changes are introduced in Northern Ireland, the only recognised ‘Cremation Authority’ under the 1961 Regulations is Belfast City Council”.
Antrim and Newtownabbey council was asked if the law will indeed allow a crematorium to be run outside Belfast. It replied simply: “The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 permits all councils to provide and maintain crematoria.”
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