Pet cemeteries: where you can build them and how to register

Where you can build a pet cemetery, the animals you can bury there, how it must be built and how to register.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

The animal carcasses you bury at a pet cemetery are animal by-products (ABPs).

Find out about the different categories of ABP.

Building your pet cemetery

You must apply for planning permission to build a pet cemetery.

Your local planning authority will also consult other interested groups like:

Where you can build a pet cemetery

Your pet cemetery must be located:

  • at least 250 metres away from any well, borehole or spring supplying drinking water or water for use at farm dairies
  • at least 30 metres from any other spring or watercourse
  • at least 10 metres from any field drain
  • more than 200 metres away from any Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

You can check that your pet cemetery meets these location requirements by talking to:

How your pet cemetery must be built

When first dug, the bottom of any burial hole must be free of standing water.

You must bury all animals at least 0.5m below the surface to prevent other animals digging up the carcass.

Your site must also have:

  • at least 1 metre of subsoil below the bottom of the burial pit, and at least 1 metre of soil to cover the carcass
  • an average burial density of no more than 20kg of pet carcass (including packing material) per square metre

Registering your pet cemetery

To start operating as a pet cemetery, you must register your site with Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

To do this, complete form AB 117 and send it to your local APHA office.

Once you’re registered, you can then bury domestic pet carcasses (eg cats, dogs, rabbits, horses).

You can’t bury farm animals like cattle, sheep, goats or pigs, even if they were kept as pets.

APHA inspection

An APHA inspector will visit the site to make sure your pet cemetery is operated legally and is built according to regulations.

Once you’re registered the inspector will make occasional inspection visits to make sure you’re still operating legally.

Get a permit to bury or spread ash

You usually need a permit to bury or spread ash.

If your site is in England or Wales your activity may be covered by a regulatory position statement (RPS). If you comply with all the conditions of the RPS you don’t need to apply for an environmental permit to bury or spread ash.

If your site is in Scotland you must apply to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) for your permit.

How to dispose of liquids

You must dispose of liquids by either.

  • emptying them into a sewer (with your local sewerage company’s agreement)
  • taking them off-site by tanker for disposal or recovery at an approved site

You can discharge clean surface water from roofs, or from areas not being used for storing waste to surface waters, or to a soakaway.

Find out how to transport ABPs.

Find out how to load and unload animal by-products and how to label containers and keep records.

Published 5 September 2014
Last updated 25 August 2016 + show all updates
  1. The regulatory position statement for burying and spreading ash has been moved to an HTML publication and linked to from this guide.

  2. Section on 'get a permit to bury or spread ash' updated to include the 'regulatory position statement (RPS)' issued by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.

  3. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  4. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  5. First published.