Can a client’s ashes be scattered in his local river?

My client would like to be cremated and have their ashes scattered in a local river. Is this permissible and will they need an Environment Agency licence?

It’s permissible to scatter ashes in rivers, streams and lakes.

Environment Agency guidance states that ashes should not be scattered within a one-kilometre radius from any drinking water supply.

You should also avoid scattering close to marinas and areas used by anglers.

If your client can comply with these requirements, no permission is needed.

Check the Environment Agency’s leaflet on funeral practices and spreading ashes (PDF 246 KB)


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

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