Action at last on toxic land

PUBLISHED: 10:08 23 November 2006 | UPDATED: 13:36 04 May 2010

THE end is in sight for campaigners in Littleport following a district council decision to take action on potentially hazardous contaminated land in the town. Old School and Ponts Hill Residents Association cautiously welcomed the news this week that E

THE "end is in sight" for campaigners in Littleport following a district council decision to take action on potentially hazardous contaminated land in the town.

Old School and Ponts Hill Residents' Association cautiously welcomed the news this week that East Cambridgeshire District Council is to commit £370,000 to decontaminating the land, which stands on the site of a former gasworks.

The land has now been formally identified as contaminated - three years after the issue was first raised by residents.

But there are concerns that the land may have already put the health of residents, some of whom have small children, at risk.

Residents' Association member Amanda Murfitt said: "It's been very frustrating to be in our position - a lot of people have had their lives on hold over this and, as far as we are concerned, there is still a health risk.

"But there is a light at the end of the tunnel because of this decision."

She said the association also fears the contaminated land status will have a disastrous effect on property prices unless the issue is resolved quickly.

"They have indicated to us that the work should be started by the spring - so we would hope that by the summer the whole mess will be sorted out."

The district council has said the

decision to formally identify the land as contaminated has initiated a clean-up process that will also include

surrounding properties in Old School Close. Although outside of the footprint of the former gasworks, subsequent development of the contaminated site shifted potentially dangerous soil into surrounding areas, and the district council agreed earlier this year to include Old School Close in any decontamination measures.

Marcus Bell, scientific officer at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "These properties will be dealt with outside of the formal contaminated land regime, but the end result will be the same - a reduction in risk to health from the ground across the site.

"We have already committed £370,000 of our own money to deal with the clean-up of the land and are in on-going discussions with the developer of the site to deal with the various issues as a legacy of the land's previous use."

The council is now in negotiations with a number of organisations, including Cambridgeshire County Council and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with the aim of securing additional funding for the clean-up.

"Throughout this process we have been in constant dialogue with the residents currently living at the site, explaining the process and giving them the latest health and safety information as we have it," Mr Bell said.

"The Residents' Association understand the pressures we have been working under and share our determination to resolve the issue.

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