COUNCIL officials are looking again at expanding a Greenock cemetery which had previously been ruled out over water contamination fears.

Plans to increase capacity at Knocknairshill - the only site in Inverclyde with space for new lairs - had to be shelved two years ago.

But now changes to Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) guidelines mean that they can look again at the ground.

The council has run out of space for burials and will now have to restrict the sale of lairs as a result.

A report by the local authority's environment and regeneration director says: "At present the monitoring process of the boreholes is taking place, with sampling happening in January.

"It is anticipated that a final report will be available by the end of February.

"Depending on the outcome of these site inspections there may be scope to expand Knocknairshill Cemetery and this would be the preferred medium term option."

All but two of the six cemeteries in Inverclyde have been ruled out for expansion, including a recent decision to exclude Port Glasgow.

Officers will now carry out further investigations at Knocknairshill, which at the current rate will have no new lairs left in four years.

The only other possibility is Kilmacolm, but the council would have to buy land there.

Councillors will meanwhile be asked to agree to the plan to restrict the sale of new lairs to one per bereavement only, to protect the immediate availability of lairs.

This measure will not be reviewed until longer term plans for expansion are put in place.

Local authorities have a statutory obligation for the provision of burial lairs.