CHANGES: Gladstone regional council has adopted a new cemetery policy.
CHANGES: Gladstone regional council has adopted a new cemetery policy. Greg Bray

CASHES FOR ASHES: Council adopts new cemetery policy

REFUNDS can be offered to unwanted reserved plots at cemeteries, under a new Gladstone Regional Council policy.

At the latest general meeting councillors voted unanimously in favour of an updated cemetery and crematorium policy.

Deputy Mayor Chris Trevor said the refund scheme was initiated because more residents were choosing to be cremated.

"What we're finding is a lot of the plots aren't being used simply because of that change in people's attitude to burial as opposed to cremation," Cr Trevor said.

The council said this new policy would be valuable as capacities at the region's cemeteries continued to fill up.

It states refunds will be considered only on a request basis or via a plot reservation confirmation program, should the council wish to conduct one in the future, to free up lots as cemetery capacities reduce.

Cr Trevor said offering refunds was "morally right" for the council to do.

"If people have reserved plots over the years and choose voluntarily to surrender those plots we think it's only fair they should have their money back," he said.

"Whether that reserved plot is used by someone else in the future, that will be a matter for council to decide."

The policy change comes amid a financial boost to cemetery expansions included in the 2019-20 Operational Plan and Budget.

There was $685,000 allocated to cemetery expansions upgrades, with $555,000 going towards the Calliope Cemetery North, $110,000 towards Calliope Cemetery South and $158,800 towards Port Curtis Cemetery.

But Cr Trevor was disappointed the policy - and the recent budget - did not address the need for a cemetery at Agnes Water.

"It's an issue that's raised with me regularly, a lot of Agnes Water, 1770 people are elderly who have moved from Sydney, Melbourne to retire and express the desire now that they want to be buried or cremated in Agnes Water," he said.

"Earlier this year we approved the adoption and implementation of the regional cemeteries and crematorium management strategy.

"What the resolution did say, which has led up to this policy formation, we would monitor the demand on an ongoing basis in Agnes Water, using ABS demographic data.

"The older the demographic, the more important this becomes."