Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/01/25/crematorium_plan/

Crematorium to heat council swimming pool

'A bit strange and eerie', shudders funeral director

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 25th January 2011 12:30 GMT

A funeral director has described Redditch Borough Council's plan to use crematorium furnaces to heat a municipal swimming pool as "a bit strange and eerie".

The authority's novel idea involves sucking calories from Borough Of Redditch Cemeteries & Crematorium to the nearby Abbey Stadium Sports Centre.

The facility's cremators dispatch the departed into the hereafter at 800°C, the Telegraph notes, and that heat is lost to the heavens.

By tapping into the crematorium, the council stands to save £14,500 annually on its heating costs.

Council leader Carole Gandy said of the pragmatic proposal: "I'd much rather use the energy rather than just see it going out of the chimney and heating the sky. It will make absolutely no difference to the people who are using the crematorium for services.

"I do recognise some people might not like it, but if they don't they don't have to use our crematorium. I wouldn't want them to do that but they have to make that choice.

She added: "It's only a proposal at the moment but personally I'm supportive of it because I think it will save the authority money and, in the long-term, save energy which is what we're all being told we should do."

Gordon Hull, from the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities, admitted the plan had planet-hugging potential. He said: "From an environmental view it makes sense that you don't need a separate boiler because of how much waste heat is created from the process."

However, local funeral director Simon Thomas expressed concerns, shuddering: "I don't know how comfortable people would feel about the swimming pool being heated due to the death of a loved one, I think it's a bit strange and eerie.

"I'm not comfortable with it at all and I think trying to save money due to the death of someone's family member or friend is a bit sick. I think it will cause uproar and may even put people off using the facilities which would lose the council money. It just doesn't feel right."

If it gets approval for the scheme, Redditch will be the first UK council to warm swimmers with burning people power, but it's no pioneer in funerary energy recycling.

In 2009, the Taipei Mortuary Services Office invested in tech intended to convert heat from a suburban crematorium into electricity to power "a new air-conditioning system in the second-floor rest area".

Like Simon Thomas, Taipei City councillor Chuang Ruei-hsiung found the idea of reprocessing furnace output somewhat distasteful. He said: "It's creepy that the mourners are cooled by air-conditioning powered by the bodies of their relatives being burnt downstairs."

Residents of the Swedish town of Halmstad proved less sensitive back in 2008, when officials proposed cutting emissions from its crematorium by using the energy to heat homes.

Cemetery director Lennart Andersson explained: "It was when we were discussing all these environmental issues that we started thinking about the energy that is used in the cremations and realised that instead of all that heat just going up into the air, we could make use of it somehow. It was just rising into the skies for nothing." ®

In the same year, Manchester's Dukinfield Crematorium said it was looking into using furnace output to heat and light its chilly chapel. Local vicar Vernon Marshall approved: "As a final act of generosity, it's a lovely way for the dead to provide comfort for the living at a difficult time." ®