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)

News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
Sport
Premier League Live Saturday 23 August
sportAll the action from today's Premier League matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (C++ / C# / HTML, Java Angular.js) London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading business intellig...

Application Support Analyst-(UNIX, Linux, Financial Services)

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support Analyst-(UNIX...

Application Support Analyst - SQL, UNIX, Linux

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support Analyst - SQL...

Application Support - FIX protocol, UNIX, SQL, Windows, OMS

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support - FIX protoco...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition