Cash to clean up toxic land

PUBLISHED: 10:29 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 04 May 2010

FAMILIES living on Littleport s toxic land have been given a glimmer of hope that clean-up work can finally begin after a five-year battle. The Government has come up with the cash to pay for work on the five worst affected homes in Ponts Hill and Old Sch

FAMILIES living on Littleport's toxic land have been given a glimmer of hope that clean-up work can finally begin after a five-year battle.

The Government has come up with the cash to pay for work on the five worst affected homes in Ponts Hill and Old School Close.

But residents say deadlines have come and gone and they will not allow themselves to get excited until diggers turn up at their front doors.

"Our lives have been on hold for five years," said resident, Amanda Murfitt. "People have been so patient. We have been given timescales before and they have come and gone. We don't want to be given any more now unless they are definite.

"We need to get the residents' agreements sorted out and make sure everybody is happy. This has happened through no fault of our own and I do not want to come out of this with anything less than I had before.

"It has been nearly two years since the council agreed to clean up the site and it is hard to get excited until the diggers turn up outside."

The Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DeFRA) has agreed to fund £249,000 of the work and East Cambridgeshire District Council will pick up a bill for £370,000 to clean up the homes built on the site of a former gas works.

The land on which the 26 homes stand is contaminated with cancer producing chemicals including Benzopyrene and arsenic and residents have been unable to sell their properties.

John Hill, chief executive of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "It has been a frustrating time for all of us, and especially the residents who have been affected by this issue.

"The confirmation from DeFRA is good news for the residents as it means we can finally start the work to decontaminate their land.

"We have made sure that throughout this process residents living on the site were fully updated on the process giving them the latest health and safety information as we have it.

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

Now a contractor is expected to be appointed before the end of the month and work will begin later in the year.

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