Toxic soil plan for Greenock social housing landscaping project
DEVELOPERS of poisonous land on the Ravenscraig Hospital public housing site intend to use polluted soil from the poisoned property for a landscaping upgrade project.
Link Group Ltd has filed a planning application with Inverclyde Council to dig contaminated soil from the development site – and transfer it to adjacent land near Pennyfern Road to provide an equipment area.
However, consultants hired by Link have admitted in a letter to the contaminated council land commissioner that the proposal brings with it an accepted way of harming people.
The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) appealed Link’s plan for the soil – which has confirmed dangerous and carcinogenic chemicals have been exceeded on multiple occasions.
Advisors to Link, Fairhurst, stated in a correspondence sent to the Council on Nov. 24th: “It is recognized that the possibility exists that pollutants are entirely due to pollutants within the site-reclaimed soil intended to be reused within the soil Landscaping improvements are associated with human end-users. ‘
Tele can determine that SEPA objected to the proposal in August because “insufficient information” was submitted.
At this point – three months before its “pollutant linkages” were added to the council – Fairhurst was trying to reassure the Environment Agency that the work would meet criteria that “the use of the soil does not cause pollution or harm to humans Health “.
Fairhurst – who said community planners and residents had “given positive feedback” – told SEPA that the soil earmarked for landscaping contained a number of potentially harmful materials, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury.
Link advisors repeatedly stressed that landscaping is necessary because it would offer “significant medium and long-term benefits to the community” and without it the selected area would “remain an unusable wet space”.
Fairhurst also told SEPA that the work would “keep the lines of sight open to prevent anti-social behavior and other criminal activity”.
Link filed planning proposals in May to use excess contaminated soil for landscaping, more than a year after the council approved its plan to build 198 social rental houses on the sprawling 83-acre former hospital site.
As with the main development, Link intends to use a “top layer” as a barrier between people and pollutants.
World-renowned contamination expert Professor Andrew Watterson – an advisor to the World Health Organization – previously stated that top layers will ultimately fail.
Fairhurst told SEPA: “The customer (Link) has found a positive way to use excess material from development that will prevent it from being landfilled and the negative environmental and safety effects of the transfer off-site and associated with disposal. ”
A social housing development strategy document produced by Fairhurst for Link states that “non-inert / hazardous waste will incur higher landfill tax rates” when removed from the site.
Fairhurst told the council last month that an assessment had found the materials “suitable for reuse” but added, “Given local overruns [of pollution] An environmental protection layer with 450 mm of clean soil on top of a geotextile separator would be required. ”
SEPA said yesterday that it has withdrawn its objection to the landscape plan.
An environmental agency spokeswoman said: “Initially, we objected to the proposals to reuse land from the adjacent residential area because the applicant did not provide enough information to demonstrate that reuse was necessary and appropriate in line with waste management license requirements and related Guidelines.
“We needed more information to show that the proposal would produce the results reported and was not a disposal activity.
“After submitting more information and redesigning the proposals, including reducing the volume of materials to be used and the footpaths to be introduced, we withdrew our objection.
“We are waiting for the outcome of the Inverclyde Council’s planning decision and their decision on the redevelopment strategy proposed by the developer.”
An eight-month investigation by the Police Scotland Economic Crime Unit into land problems at the Ravenscraig site has not yet been completed.
MSP Stuart McMillan said he had lost confidence in the housing estate and called for it to be stopped while the police investigation was still ongoing.
Link bought the property in March 2017 for £ 1 in a back-to-back deal involving former owners NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and the Scottish Government’s More Homes Division.
Just months earlier, the district surveyor estimated the land to be worth £ 850,000.
Link decided in July not to answer any further questions from the Telegraph.
The Scottish Government says the land transfer was carried out “in accordance with all due process”.