Farmer wins right to dig his own grave on his own land

A SCOTTISH farmer has won the right to be buried on his own land, in a coffin he built himself, on a hilltop plot surrounded by eight types of rare orchid. But Ian Alcock's mind is focused on more temporal matters this week: a battle to regain money paid to the town council during the planning dispute over his grave.

The Scottish Office ruled last week that Mr Alcock, a former City stockbroker, did not require planning consent for private burials on his 500-acre farm in Royal Deeside.

Having learnt that it was unnecessary to go through the planning process with Kincardine and Deeside Council, Mr Alcock now wants back the pounds 197 which he paid in planning fees during his battle with the council.

His views on the supposed need to be buried in consecrated ground are frank. 'Sheer bunk,' he says. He has a do-it-yourself plywood coffin stored in his turnip shed with two pounds 12 body bags - the other is for his wife, Diana, who will be buried alongside him.

The Scottish Office informed him that no planning consent was required, since private graves in the Aboyne farm 'did not constitute a change of land use' and digging the graves 'did not constitute an engineering project' under Town and Country planning regulations. Mr Alcock, 57, is not treating the ruling as an historic victory. Reports on planning for his death have been greatly exaggerated, he claims. 'I haven't set any precedent in law. It was all there,' he said.

In England and Wales, the legal position governing burial is no different from the Scottish Office ruling. According to a Home Office spokeswoman, no restrictions exist to prevent burial even in your own back garden. Only an intervention by the Department of the Environment, worried about ground pollution, could result in private burial being refused.

Three years ago, after reading Undertaken with Love by Jane Spottiswood - a story about the author's husband dying of cancer and wanting a simple funeral - the Alcocks decided they wanted to be buried on a particularly beautiful hilltop overlooking their farm, without the palaver of crematoriums and formal funerals. But conversations with the council started to become complex, he said. 'I would ask, 'Why do I need permission to bury me? I'm a farmer. I bury dead animals here all the time.' They would say, 'Animals are agricultural, sir'. I would say, 'What about chimpanzees, are they agricultural?' '

With planning permission given, Mr Alcock got down to the business of building coffins. 'I lay on the ground and a friend measured me. The local postman refused to believe what I was doing, so I sprayed RIP on the side in red sheep dip.' The coffin is now resting in the turnip shed after the farm dog took to urinating on it.

Mr Alcock dismisses accusations of being either morbid or eccentric. 'I see no reason not to laugh or joke about it now. Because when either of us dies, you never know how you will react.

'Let me explain by offering these lines from a poem by Joyce Grenfell - 'If I should go before the rest of you. . . weep if you must but sing as well'.'

He added: 'You don't need all that burial stuff. It's sheer bunk about not getting your angels' wings unless you are in consecrated ground.' He describes himself as religious, 'but not in any conventional sense'.

He and his wife's final resting place, with spaces for immediate family and close friends, will look over 155 acres designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of the rare orchids growing nearby. 'I decided to buy this farm within one minute of seeing it. We've worked it more or less as organic farmers. Eventually we'd like a small plaque simply noting who's down there with the deer and the sheep grazing over us.'

(Photograph omitted)

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel