Con­tam­i­na­tion fears at pro­posed hous­ing site

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

COAL dust de­scribed as “con­tam­i­nated” is blow­ing around homes bor­der­ing the site of a con­tentious pro­posed hous­ing de­vel­op­ment in Mir­field.

Cam­paign­ers who are against Bell­way Homes’ plan to build on Balder­stone Hall Fields say they are dis­gusted and ap­palled that earth­movers have stripped all the top­soil from the 11.4-acre par­cel of land off Well­house Lane.

The work forms part of “ground in­ves­ti­ga­tion works” to scour the site for un­recorded mine work­ings fol­low­ing ad­vice by the Coal Au­thor­ity.

But ob­jec­tors say as well as af­fect­ing nearby prop­er­ties the swirling dust from his­tor­i­cal mine work­ings also risks en­dan­ger­ing the health of chil­dren at a lo­cal pri­mary school.

And they fear that the land is be­ing cleared in readi­ness for the con­struc­tion of an ac­cess road – even though no plan­ning per­mis­sion has been granted.

Bell­way has ap­plied to build a 60-house es­tate on the site, which is be­lieved to be rid­dled with an­cient mine en­tries and deep shafts.

Ch­eryl Tyler, from Save Mir­field, said a geo­phys­i­cal sur­vey of the area could iden­tify an­cient mine work­ings that would prompt a re-de­sign of Bell­way’s lay­out.

How­ever she said the work that has taken place since the end of Au­gust was “un­sat­is­fac­tory”.

She added: “This is just a cyn­i­cal at­tempt to make it look like they’re be­ing very thor­ough.

“They are for ap­pear­ances and in do­ing so they’ve made a ter­ri­ble mess that is af­fect­ing lo­cal res­i­dents in a very bad way.

“Last week peo­ple couldn’t open their win­dows or hang their wash­ing out. And if the au­tumn is a dry one then the prob­lem won’t go away.”

Lo­cal town coun­cil­lor Steve Ben­son, of the cam­paign group Project Mir­field, di­rectly ac­cused Bell­way of creat­ing “a se­ri­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard”.

He said re­mov­ing top soil would re­veal coal dust that could be tainted with an ar­ray of toxic sub­stances in­clud­ing ar­senic and cad­mium.

He said: “I am ab­so­lutely dis­gusted as to the way this top­soil strip is be­ing man­aged with no re­spon­si­bil­ity to lo­cal res­i­dents and the small chil­dren at Cross­ley Fields School.

“The con­tam­i­nated dust, on this occasion, is spread­ing on to Hep­worth Drive. If the wind changes di­rec­tion and blows the con­tam­i­nated dust on to Cross­ley Fields School then it should be shut to pro­tect the chil­dren.”

Clr Ben­son has de­manded that all lo­cated mine en­tries are cov­ered over to halt the spread of the con­tam­i­na­tion and that all test sam­ples should be taken from all mine en­tries “to find out what is be­ing wil­fully spread around our neigh­bour­hood.”

A spokesman for Bell­way Homes said the com­pany was re­quired by the Coal Au­thor­ity and Kirklees Coun­cil to fully ex­plore the de­vel­op­ment to iden­tify the ex­is­tence of any his­toric lo­calised min­ing works car­ried out within the site and the wider area.

“Un­for­tu­nately this could only be achieved by the re­moval of over­ly­ing top­soil within the foot­print of roads and dwellings. These in­ves­ti­ga­tions are now com­plete.

“The site ben­e­fits from a com­pre­hen­sive ground in­ves­ti­ga­tion with a suite of tests car­ried out that cat­e­gor­i­cally con­firms that the top­soil is not con­tam­i­nated.

“In or­der to min­imise dis­tur­bance to the ad­ja­cent res­i­dents our con­trac­tor used damp­ing down mea­sures to min­imise any gen­er­a­tion of dust.

“In ad­di­tion the top­soil stock­piles have been cov­ered. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion will in­form the cur­rent plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion on which we hope plan­ning of­fi­cers will make a rec­om­men­da­tion in the near fu­ture.”

A Kirklees Coun­cil spokesman said: “We have re­ceived com­plaints from lo­cal peo­ple about the dust, and have been in touch with the de­vel­op­ers about the is­sue.”

Cross­ley Fields School did not re­spond to a re­quest to com­ment.

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