Plans to build 250 homes on a site dubbed “the most contaminated in England” have been slammed by residents who fear it is a “ticking time bomb”.
David Ashley Construction’s proposals for houses beside Amber Valley Rugby Club, in Somercotes, Derbyshire, have been approved after fierce debate at a council meeting which had to be temporarily halted when tensions boiled over.
Councilor Jason Parker, a member of Somercotes Parish Council and lifelong resident of the village in Derbyshire, had yelled: “How can you go ahead with this application when it is filled with thousands and thousands of tonnes of toxic waste?”
A member of the rugby club then yelled back: “We have been playing rugby on it for years and we are fine.”
As Derbyshire Live reports, residents also voiced their concerns over the plans.
Diana Dixon, a Somercotes resident, told the meeting: “Everybody in this room knows that this site is contaminated, you know it (the planning board), I know it, we all know it. We need a guarantee that health risk issues will never affect our lives as a result of this site, nothing in any way or form.
“It is toxic. Would all of you voting here today move your family onto this site and buy a house on a toxic dump? If you don’t have the courage of your convictions to do that then don’t subject us to it. “
Councilor Kellie Judson, speaking on behalf of the parish council, said: “There is reliable evidence of significant contamination risk that remains unexamined by the selective and flawed site investigations.” She said the council needs to “properly understand the contamination position” on the site.
A formal complaint by the parish council, read out in the meeting, explained there is evidence of toxic chemicals migrating from north to south from a historic landfill into the rugby club site, which was also once a waste dump.
The complaint refers to the rugby club landfill site as “one of the most toxically contaminated historical hazardous waste landfills in the country”. It alleges the site is contaminated with the “illegal dumping of toxic waste, including highly toxic dioxin”.
Councilor John McCabe then said “This is the most contaminated site in England. We are putting people’s health and well-being at risk. Which one out of you (planning board members) will buy the first house on this site?
“We should be thinking about our children’s and our grandchildren’s well-being.”
Helen Marks, agent for the applicants, told the meeting there was no evidence of any dioxin identified in the ground investigation of the site.
She said there was no evidence of contamination identified which should stop development. Ms Marks said an appeal inspector had refused plans for 200 homes on the site previously but this had been down to a lack of information on ground conditions, which the developer says has now been supplied.
Officials wrote in a council report for the meeting: “Further investigations are needed to confirm conditions across the site, but based on the results to date, it is highly unlikely that there will be a contaminant linkage, whereby volatile organic chemicals (harmful natural substances ) represent a human health risk.”
Councilors voted by nine votes for and three votes against to approve the 250-home plans.