ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners say more needs to be done to cut fumes from cremations which can produce as much harmful pollution as a car driving twice the length of the UK.

A probe by Newsquest’s Data Investigations Unit has revealed that Facultatieve Technologies, which supplies the majority of the UK's cremators, is developing technology to reduce NOx gases (nitrogen oxides) - which are a major factor in poor urban air quality.

Freedom of Information responses made to local councils revealed that this is not in place at a single council-run crematorium across Wales and only found in a handful of the 307 across England, Wales, Scotland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

In total, 180 of the 198 publicly run crematoria (including those run by joint committees) in the UK do not have deNOx technology in place (91 per cent).

In North Wales, obtained data shows that Colwyn Bay Crematorium (Bryn-y-nant Cemetery), Bangor Crematorium and Wrexham Crematorium (Pentrebychan Crematorium) - which are all run by the local authority - are listed as not having the technology installed.

Many councils said they do not currently have deNOx equipment in their crematoria as there is no legislative requirement to do so. The use of deNOx technology in crematoria is more common in European countries such as Italy and Belgium where tougher emission level regulations exist than in the UK.

A number of councils insisted they have been considering the new technology and said they would look to install it if legislation changes.

A spokesman for Wrexham Council said: “We are currently looking at options around replacing equipment at Pentrebychan Crematorium, which would include the use of the relatively recent deNOx technology – however, no definite decision on this has been made at this time.”

When approached, Conwy County Borough Council said it been working with other crematoria and industry experts looking at deNOx technology, but there are still technical issues in retrofitting it on existing cremators.

A spokesman said: “We have been advised to wait until these trials are complete and until we know if NOx emission limits will be set for crematoria in the UK. Any investment we make would need to meet regulated levels, which is difficult at present because we do not know what NOx emission limit levels will be or how effective retrofitted technology is.

The council added that they are continuing to work with other crematoria and industry experts to make sure the Conwy minimises its impact on air quality in a viable way.

Furthermore, a Gwynedd Council spokesman said: “Cremations at Bangor Crematorium are completed with abated and unabated processes (65 per cent of cremations during 2019 were abated).

“Planning has begun for a scheme to replace the process providing unabated cremations with new plant that includes a de-NOx facility. Introducing a deNOx facility to service the existing abated process will be considered as part of the scheme.”

Data was not obtained for Flintshire Memorial Park and Crematorium, in Northop, and Denbighshire Memorial Park and Cermatorium, in St Asaph as these facilities are privately owned by the company Memoria.

Figures published by The Cremation Society show that the number of people opting for the process has increased year on year.

In 2018, 78 per cent of UK deaths resulted in cremations (481,712 in total) – compared to just over half of deaths 50 years earlier (51 per cent) when there were 327,901 cremations.

The majority of coffins used in cremations are made from chipboard/MDF and funerals using these types of coffins produce the same amount of NOx gas as a car driving 2,280 miles or 3,650 cars driving past the crematorium during the course of a cremation, according to industry magazine Pharos.

Eco-minded industry figures say the problem has been kept under the radar and Green Party members believe councils across the country and the Government should do more to make cremations greener after the UK Parliament declared a climate emergency last May.

A Green Party spokesman shared worries surrounding NOx pollution and said people should not let the taboo around death prevent us from addressing environmental concerns and.

The spokesman said: “We are in no doubt that cremations are contributing to this problem. Bereaved families should be equipped with the information they need to make more environmentally friendly choices when saying goodbye to a loved one.

"Ironically, people with stoves and log burners are advised against burning chipboard due to the toxic fumes it produces, yet this is precisely what is happening with funerals as the majority of coffins cremated are made of chipboard.

“We should not let the taboo around death prevent us from addressing environmental concerns."