Corruption Smells Like Burning Human Flesh 90

What does the stink of corruption smell like? In Scotland, it smells like burning human flesh.

How close would you like to live to a crematorium? Serious question, and I would ask you to kindly pause for a moment to consider the answer before you read any further. How close would you like your flat or house to be to a crematorium?

In Scotland, the current legal limit is two hundred yards. Most people think that is about right. We know that, because the Scottish Government held a public consultation on this issue and the large majority of respondents replied that 200 yards was about right. Which makes it rather strange that this week the Scottish Parliament will finally pass into law an act reducing the distance to nil. Yes, nil.

I want to make this very plain. It just does not mean that new homes can be built close to crematoria. It means that somebody can build a crematorium right next to existing homes.

The Bill has been working through the committee stages at Holyrood, and at every stage the committee strikes out the abolition of the distance between crematoria and homes. A the next stage the Scottish government simply puts it back. This week the Bill will finally be passed, with the SNP using its majority to override everybody else and insist crematoria should be built right next to homes.

Why? The truth is, Scotland does not have a massive population or a shortage of land – there are plenty of places away from homes where crematoria could be built.

Here lies the extremely ugly truth. Crematoria are profitable private businesses. Private business interests have been investing in new crematoria – through sticking the furnaces into existing buildings – for the last three years, under ministerial assurances that the bill will be passed. There is one in Haddington only thirty yards from homes, and with its exhaust chimneys actually below the level of people’s windows. Planning permission was given on the absolutely extraordinary grounds that the present law does not forbid the construction of crematoria close to homes, only the carrying out of cremations. So they can be built waiting for the developers’ ministerial pals to ram the law through Parliament.

Here is the nub. In what kind of banana republic are businessmen able to spend millions in preparation to carry out an illegal activity, safe in the knowledge that their ministerial chums will change the law for them? What does that say about our democracy and the functioning of Holyrood? What incentive do those ministers have to approve a policy so irrational and unpopular as this one, and keep ramming it through against the opposition of public consultation and the relevant parliamentary committees?

As we move forwards to independence, we are fools if we do not face one fact. Just being independent, or even just throwing off the Labour Party, does not rid us of the culture of corruption which we all know has bedevilled Scottish urban politics for decades. This all seems to me just like witnessing the handling of contracts by Dundee Council in the 1970s.

Sadly, Scotland does not have investigative journalists, only unionist stenographers, which is why you have not heard of this. The government will reply that modern technology makes crematoria emissions safe and clean. I do not care. It is an activity which ought to be secluded, for the dignity of both mourners and local residents. People do not want particles of someone else entering their homes and nostrils, no matter how microscopic or sterile. The Scottish Government’s behaviour in this matter is atrocious.

You simply cannot get more neo-con than the de-regulation of death itself for private profit. There could be no more stark example of the SNP acting against everything it is supposed to stand for. How ministers can do something so shameful, while acting in a manner so arrogant, is quite beyond me. I can think of only one possible reason, and it is not pretty.

At least after Independence we will only have corrupt Holyrood politicians to jail and not Westminster ministers too.

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90 thoughts on “Corruption Smells Like Burning Human Flesh

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  • Valerie

    There is a pdf file of the report to Planning committee at East Lothian Council.
    It deals with the application in detail.

    That’s the local planning system in action. Happens every day.

    I’m referring to Haddington, as you seem to be using it as evidence of corruption, and I don’t see it.

    Repeal of the 200 yard rule is a separate matter, and I’m unclear how repeal of that indicates corruption.
    Sure, there’s lots of land around Scotland, but the point has already been made, it’s owned by God knows who.

  • Valerie

    Session 4 of the Bills discussion has the 200 yard guidance in.

    This is available to read on the Scottish Parliament website.

  • Resident Dissident

    I suspect that there is something going on re crematoria in the rest of the UK – yesterday’s Budget Report contained this in the detail

    “Crematoria – The government is today launching a consultation on crematoria provision and facilities to assess whether they are fit for purpose and sensitive to the needs of all users and faiths. The consultation will run until 26 May.”

    Why the rush to consult and the lack of low key publicity around the consultation?

  • craig Post author


    Yes, this is because the SNP were outvoted on a committee reading last week. Will you kindly read the actual post? The SNP were in fact outvoted because one of their members was absent when the vote was taken.

    The government are expected to put the 200 yard abolition back in when the Bill goes back to the full house.

  • craig Post author


    Incidentally I have good reason to suspect that the SNP member who missed the vote at committee was absent because they had more qualms than you about defending the indefensible.

  • Valerie

    I’m sure you can see conspiracy in one person’s absence, or you have some kind of special access to the SNP.

    As you say the gov’t is putting the 200 yard rule back in, as I have just said, I still can’t see why your knickers are in a twist.

    However, we know you have an axe to grind, so have at it.

  • craig Post author


    No. The committee put the rule back in. The government are putting the ABOLITION of the rule back in.

  • Laguerre

    The best solution for the disposal of the dead is to put them in the earth, and let them refertilise the future.

  • RobG

    Talking about incinerating people, this is for Habba: starting approx. 14 minutes in, Martin Luther King’s famous speech against the Vietnam war…

    This speech was made at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in April 1967.

    I wonder why they assassinated him?

  • John Spencer-Davis

    17/03/16 9:39pm

    Kempe’s posting makes the very important point that building crematoria in close proximity to residential areas will not only be a nuisance to the residents, but carries considerable risk of violating the dignity of the deceased and the privacy of the bereaved.

    Kind regards,


  • Alcyone (Simple: Truth, Goodness, Beauty)

    17 Mar, 2016 – 12:26 pm
    Good for Muslims – Cremation is considered ‘unkosher’ as it puts a person into ‘hellfire’ even before the Day of Judgment.

    Rehmat have you ever considered what a bigoted cunt you come across as, putting your ‘Islamic’ spin on everything? Muslims this and Muslims that. Who gives a fuck?

  • giyane

    I lived near several scrap yards, the nearest of which judders the building all day long.
    But I like scrapyards and when it was worth something I used to weigh stuff in. I regularly buy armoured cable.

    The local council approved an application to turn the scrapyard into a waste processing unit, about 100 metres away , which would have increased the rat population, but the mosque between me and the potential waste site seem to have got together with the Muslim Planning Dept. CEO.

    The nearest waste disposal site is half a mile away and I have been allowed to take as much wood as I like from there for my wood-burning stove. No high gas bills for me.

    With nimbyism there is usually some great advantage from the new development which the nimbies can’t see. Can;t see any in crematoria, but you might get the, what did Habba call it, magisterial intonements of the former PM son of the manse coming up the chimney in his retirement with the stench of roasting flesh and mercury.

    And you could ask him round for a cup of tea and talk about varlues too.

  • giyane


    Good thing I was ducking or I’m sure that racist cowpat would have been aimed at me.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    I think it is actually worth posting the reasoning of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee 2nd Report on this matter. Italics are mine. Comments in square brackets and italics are also mine.


    PART 2 – Cremation

    Proximity of new crematoria and housing

    79. A number of written submissions and witnesses’ comments related to the provision in the Cremation Act 1902 which prevents a crematorium being built within 200 yards of existing housing and which has not been restated in the Bill. The Burial and Cremation Review Group had recommended the provision be reinstated in a new bill but converted into metric measurement.

    80. Scottish Government officials explained the provision was not reinstated because “we do not think that it currently works”. Dr Cuthbert-Kerr said “there are no restrictions on any development being built within a particular distance of an existing crematorium. The limit only works one way.”53

    [Which would seem a very good argument for extending current legislation to forbid development within 200 yards of a crematorium, not to abolish the 200-yard rule altogether.]

    81. Concerns about the withdrawal of the proximity restrictions were submitted by, amongst others, South Ayrshire, Fife, Inverclyde, and Falkirk councils and Edinburgh Crematorium Limited, as well as the FBCA. Rick Powell of FBCA believed—

    The positioning of crematoria is vital in ensuring that bereaved families are not subjected to the day-to-day activities that take place in residential areas and gardens. When attending a funeral service or visiting a crematorium the bereaved are entitled to expect to be able to spend time in peaceful and meaningful contemplation. The routine of daily living including parties in gardens, barbecues and accompanying music in no way fits with the tranquil setting that we have come to expect in such a location.54

    82. He suggested—

    Rather than have the 200-yard and 50-yard rules removed the FBCA would like legislators to take action to protect these vital locations and prevent the siting of subsequent developments literally up to the curtilage of the crematoria grounds.55

    [Which would seem the sensible way round to do it, as per my comment above].

    83. This view was supported by East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, Perth and Kinross, and Inverclyde councils, who provided oral evidence. Willie Rennie of Inverclyde Council preferred a buffer zone of 200 yards between houses and crematoria, and for that to be applied when building new crematoriums next to existing housing or when building new houses next to existing crematoriums.56

    84. Tim Morris of the ICCM was supportive of the approach taken by the Bill but considered some additional measures should be taken to assist planning authorities, such as “proper guidance provided for those who issue planning consent so that they can fully investigate and understand the need to maintain the tranquillity of the crematorium environment”.57

    85. The Minister explained that even if the bill contained a minimum distance that would not necessarily prevent a crematorium from being granted planning permission.58 Under the planning system, she explained, a crematorium could be built within the specified distance and if an objection was successfully made, the crematorium could not operate.59

    [God almighty, and I thought “Yes, Minister” was fiction. Who’s going to grant planning permission for a crematorium that it is going to be against the law to operate? Who’s going to apply for planning permission for a facility that it is going to be against the law to operate? Craig’s suggestions about murky financial waters suddenly start to make a good deal of sense]

    86. When questioned about potential harmful emissions from crematoriums and the impact on communities and therefore the need for the 200 yard rule to be reinstated and strengthened, Scottish government officials responded providing some assurance—

    There is a requirement for annual inspections of crematoria by SEPA, and emissions over particular levels will result in a crematorium’s operation being suspended, if necessary, or at least in the number of cremations that it can carry out being reduced, so we believe that the existing SEPA controls are appropriate and sufficient.

    87. We acknowledge the arguments presented about maintaining tranquillity for the bereaved and also the impact on everyday enjoyment of dwellings when a crematorium is sited close to housing. These arguments demonstrate how sensitive an issue this can be for all those involved.

    [Very helpful.]

    88. The overwhelming majority of the evidence we received asked for the ‘200 yard rule’ to be retained and strengthened. We also noted the substantial confusion around how this rule works in conjunction with the planning system. We find it undesirable that the Bill does nothing to tackle this level of confusion.

    89. We therefore recommend the Scottish Government takes cognisance of the issues raised and, in discussion with planning colleagues, brings forward an amendment at stage 2 which addresses these concerns.

    [Let’s see if they just chuck out the 200-yard rule again instead. If so, why?]


    Kind regards,


  • RobG

    The poor dears don’t even realise that they are living in a police state.

    Do you understand the law that went through Parliament earlier this week? (it’s known as the snooper’s charter).


  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Excellent and informative post from John Spencer-Davis at 22h47 last night.

    Would that there were more like that.

  • YouKnowMyName

    Trolls: (n) from the Norwegian – “lives under a bridge and eats small goats” [ed: not sure about that definition!]

    exciting breathless news from the interwebs on Russian trolls, which leads to a bigger truth. . .

    BRUSSELS – Russian journalist Lyudmila Savchuk earned the enmity of the Kremlin by going undercover for more than two months in a so-called “troll factory” in St. Petersburg to expose how the Russian government is flooding media with misinformation. Speaking on 29 February at a think-tank event in Brussels, Savchuk said there were at least 400 young people in that one company alone pumping out content for the “Internet Research Centre” via tweets, Facebook posts and even articles used in mainstream media praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and deriding everyone else.

    One of the most shocking things to emerge from her secret mission was how these trolls and their information “have penetrated everywhere”

    excellent journalism! – but lets review this from the “Corruption Smells” angle, de-personalise the hate*putin agenda as it gets in the way of what is actually happening, it is a shield of fog, surrounded with the actual tragic whiff of burning humans.

    so correcting slightly the above block-quote we get to:

    “Every Country now is using their own troll-factory to flood the media with disinformation, via tweets, Facebook posts and even articles in the mainstream media”. . . “in every country the trolls have penetrated everywhere”

    This has now been proved by a brave Russian journalist. . .but where is the Daily Mail journo who has been inside the UK’s secret “troll factories”?, where is the comment from liberal Ha’aretz sources on their national skills?

    Or would you like to allege that the UK is falling way behind the Russian-lead in using/abusing the modern communications technologies?

  • deepgreenpuddock

    I tried to push the discussion a little away from the shennanigans of the SNP committee or party.
    Analysing motves in politics is very difficult in detail although obviously many people will ay that it is simple-just follow the trail of advantage.
    I think I was trying to say that the disposal of bodies by cremation is contrary to goood environmental practice.
    The UCLA paper was suggesting that agricultural activities cannot be sustained beyond about 2030 without finding new sources of, for want of a better word,- fertiliser. Reasons for this are that there is a real risk that the supplies of phosphate are being rapidly depleted.Most phosphate is produced by mining rock containing phosphate in the US. Of course it will not ‘run out’ but if we are to believe in ‘the market’ we must assume that there will be a knock-on effect on food prices.

    Currently we essentially throw away nutrients in the form of sewage. I think some is possibly recycled but there are a number of problems with introducing it into the food system . These include the persistence of parasitic cysts, which are remarkably resilient, and the presence of heavy metals.
    The same applies to the incineration of bodies. someone correctly pointed out that the area around crematoria is subject to this matter. I certainly would not like to live close to a source of vapourised mercury. Obviously , being a heavy metal it will make its way back to ground, probably quite near these facilities.I guess there will be some kind of scientific literature on this, as well as the presence of other pollutants near to crematoria.
    When I read the paper I took a few sharp intakes of breath because if the authors were correct, I could see that there would be a huge reaction this idea. People are very sensitive about the remains of their loved ones.

    What bothers me somewhat about the discussion here is the focus on the rather squalid party political elements of the matter , when we really should be trying to move the argument towards the long term sustainability issues.
    The arguments should be framed in an entirely different way because I am more and more convinced that the real challenges we face are those related to our environment.
    It annoys me that the politicians of whatever stripe are so focussed on the short term advantages.It may be that politicians are saying that deregulating crematoria will give a cheaper service for people faced with hefty funeral expenses and that may seem justifiable t them and many voters.It may be that the SNP members are focussed on profit opportunities for their mates in the ever reliable funeral trade.I really am not sure.
    The problem I see is that there is not attempt to engage by politicians in very difficult question such as this?how doe we dispose of dead bodies in a way more suited t the high density population structures we see now.
    Burial and cremation may be of negligible environmental significance in low density populations but becomes a matter for serious discussion in the current time.
    There are huge cultural and emotional and psychological difficulties here. How does one get over deep rooted traditions such as that of Jewish people and Muslims where burial must be generally, within a day of death or very deep rooted beliefs in having some part of the remains interred(that was the meaning of the pirates ‘skull and bones’.
    Why are they no politicians properly engaged in this tricky topic?

  • deepgreenpuddock

    Troll factories:
    a 400 person operation such as that described seems a very large drain on resources.
    Imagine 400 salaries and accommodation and equipment never mind the supervision and coordination required.
    Assuming a modest 20,000 a year per person, that is an annual wage bill of 8 million + other costs -lets just round it up to 10 mil.
    Is there only one national troll factory? or is there a moscow troll factory too?
    What about this country?
    Does this seem like a good use of resources-probably technically adept young people with good language skills?
    I suspect there is indeed media manipulation but surely it would not be organised in this expensive, unsubtle, error prone way.

  • fred

    We don’t have a crematorium. If someone wants to be cremated they and anyone wanting to see them off have to make the hundred mile journey to Inverness. We could do with a law saying they have to build them closer.

    More corruption and incompetence making the headlines this morning. The IT company supposed to be working on online CAP applications has been firing Scottish workers and hiring Indian workers for half the price.

  • deepgreenpuddock

    I assume you are somewhere in Sutherland or Caithness or Wester Ross area. That is the least populated area in Europe.Surely traditional interment/burial is the obvious answer in such conditions. I realise there is a degree of choice here but……
    In any event it would not really be economically viable to place one in such a low density area.

  • deepgreenpuddock

    I assume you are somewhere in Sutherland or Caithness or Wester Ross area. That is the least populated area in Europe.Surely traditional interment/burial is the obvious answer in such conditions. I realise there is a degree of choice here but……
    In any event it would not really be economically viable to place one in such a low density area.

  • K Crosby

    K Crosby

    There are a great many excellent people in the SNP and they are still the main weapon for Independence. But there are some real arseholes too, and the corruption of power is dangerous.

    That’s why I’m an anarchist.

  • John Seal

    Without entering into questions of politics, privatisation, and corruption, I want to point out that modern crematoria are not terribly intrusive. I live immediately across the street from one (200 yards? not sure precisely) and in the last 25 years have never once noticed so much as a puff of smoke or an untoward odour emanating therefrom. In short, a crematorium can easily and unobtrusively sit in a relatively high density urban neighbourhood without drawing attention to itself or causing problems.

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