Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Tier 1 hydrogeological risk assessment involve?2016-11-04T08:44:42+00:00

The assessment combines information such as soil type, geology, hydrogeology with predictions of burial rates to derive the level of risk to the environment from the proposed cemetery development. The assessment is presented in the form of a detailed report which covers:

  • Geomorphology
  • Geology
  • Hydrogeology
  • Soil series/association
  • Climate
  • Proximity to groundwater source protection zones
  • Proximity to indicative flood plains
  • Design rainfall events – should a drainage scheme be required
  • Determination of vulnerability class
  • Determination of level of risk
What factors affect the degree of risk to the environment associated with my proposed cemetery development, and how does the Environment Agency arrive at a risk rating?2016-11-04T08:44:10+00:00

1The Environment Agency has produced a table that summarises the pertinent site factors associated with a cemetery development. Scores are assigned to the various factors and combined to derive a Vulnerability Rating.  A graph is used to combine the Vulnerability Rating with the total number of burials anticipated in order to derive the degree of risk.

Groundwater Vulnerability Ranking Chart (Table 5.1 in P223)


Very Low




Very High

Drift Type



Silty Sand

Sand / Gravel


Drift Thickness


>3 – 5m


0 – 3m


Flow Mechanism









Minor aquifer


Major aquifer

Abstraction and Source Protection Zone

Outside Zone lll

Within Zone lll

Close to boundary of Zones ll and lll

Within Zone ll

Within Zone l or >250m from private source

Watercources and springs


>70m <100m

>50m <70m

>30m <50m




>40m <100m

30m – 40m

>10m <30m



Does the Environment Agency have criteria for new cemetery developments that must be met?2016-11-04T08:43:19+00:00

This can vary depending on location, but the Environment Agency will typically require the following:

  • No burials into standing water.
  • At least 1 metre of soil below the base of the grave.
  • At least 250 metres away from the nearest potable groundwater supply source.
  • At least 30 metres away from any spring or watercourse.
  • At least 10 metres away from any existing field drains.
What do I need to do if the results of a Tier 1 hydrological risk assessment determine my site to be low, moderate or high risk?2016-11-04T08:42:33+00:00

For sites classified as ‘low risk’, no further site investigative work is required.  For sites classified as ‘moderate’ or ‘high’ risk, the Environment Agency will require Tier 2 or 3 risk assessment respectively:

Tier 2:  Preliminary quantitative risk assessment with detailed desk study and preliminary site investigation.

Tier 3:  Detailed quantitative risk assessment.

We are considering purchasing some land in order to construct a new cemetery. How can we reduce the risk of purchasing land that may not be suitable for a cemetery development?2016-11-04T08:41:51+00:00

The most cost-effective way to assess the suitability of the land is to commission a Tier 1 risk assessment and liaise with the Environment Agency over the findings to gauge the likelihood of receiving EA approval.

Go to Top