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Campaigners continue fight against houses being built on 'former toxic tip'

Campaigners say they will continue to fight for a full investigation into contamination leaching from a former toxic tip despite losing a costly High Court battle.

Somercotes Against Development fought a legal challenge against Amber Valley Borough Council over approved plans for 200 houses off Birchwood Lane.

The battle to prevent housing from being built close to a former landfill site, known as LS01, has raged on for half a century.

An extensive investigation into the mysterious former tip was carried out by the Local Democracy Reporting Service last year.

Landowner Bernard Swain successfully won planning permission for the homes in June 2018.

Somercotes Against Development launched a judicial review challenge in the High Court against the permission, but learned last week it had lost.

Kellie Judson, of Somercotes Against Development, said: “It is unlikely we will appeal, the costs are simply too high.

“We will continue to work with our geo-environmental engineer and are meeting with Nigel Mills (Amber Valley MP) to discuss our options.”

LS01 was a landfill licensed by Derbyshire County Council for the tipping of toxic waste in the 70s, under the management of Cambro Contractors Limited, now based in Watford.

The former time sits less than 100 metres away from the proposed housing site at Nether Farm, off Birchwood Lane.

Ms Judson said: “The judge would not allow any scientific evidence at the judicial review and would not allow the ground investigation findings of the second Nether Farm application to be included.

“These findings proved that the landfill is leaching and that significant works need to be conducted prior to any development of the site.

“We will however continue to try to get the council to conduct the long overdue Part 2A assessment (under the Environmental Protection Act) of the LS01 landfill.

“Without the knowledge of the types of chemicals that were deposited there it is difficult for the ground investigations to be looking for the right kinds of contaminants.”

Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act introduced a legal definition of contaminated land for the first time.

It says that it is any area which – due to the substances in or on it – could cause or is causing significant harm or could cause or is causing pollution of water sources.

Mr Justice Lewis ruled against the campaign group largely on the basis that there was no requirement that potential contamination issues had to be assessed and dealt with prior to a grant of planning permission.

Despite this, conditions attached to the planning permission by the council, in agreement with the developer, require “a detailed scheme for investigation and recording of contamination” before any new homes could be built.

Last year, the borough council confirmed that thousands of tonnes of toxic materials were dumped in the former tip from 1948 until the 1970s, completely unchecked.

During this period, the council said “local authorities had no information on the wastes being deposited on site”.

A court report of the judicial review hearing says that the council’s scientific officer had reported that “hazardous material was probably deposited” in the landfill between 1973 and 1978.

It also says that Public Health England (PHE) was consulted and said there was “no verified data on the content of the landfill”.

But PHE noted “anecdotal reports of other material, including radioactive isotopes and dioxins” in the landfill.

It advised a thorough investigation of the “potential for migration of contaminated soil” onto the development site.

In January, the LDRS revealed that a ground investigation by Ivy House Environmental into the Nether Farm site had found gases that would post a “potential human health risk”.

This included substances that can prove fatal, harm unborn babies and damage fertility.

Here are some of the chemicals found on the site:

  • Benzene – found in crude oil

  • Dodecane – used in nuclear fuel reprocessing plants

  • 1,6-Dioxacyclododecane-1,12-diome – used in laminated bioplastics

  • Diethyldimethylplumbane – an organic lead component

  • Oxalic acid, 2TMS derivative – often used for cleaning and bleaching, and removing rust

  • Tridecane – used in the manufacture of paraffin products, the paper processing industry, in jet fuel research and in the rubber industry

  • Decane,2-methyl – used as a food flavouring or additive

  • Tetradecane – found in crude oil, is a commercial chemical and is a component in jet fuel

  • Cyclohexane, isothiocyanate – used in flavour research and food science

  • Benzene, 1-ethenyl-3-ethyl – has been used in the cosmetics industry

Ivy House said any homes built on the site would have to have suspended floods to allow gases to escape.

The borough council confirmed that from 1977, LS01 was licensed for the dumping of “special waste”, including mercury compounds and vanadium pentoxide, a known carcinogen.

It has also said it has “received claims” that radioactive caesium 133, cobalt 60, carbon 14, strontium 90 and uranium 234 had been dumped at the former landfill.

The Diocese of Derby had an investigation report compiled on a site off Stanley Street, adjoining Nether Farm, which it owns. The LDRS asked it to release the report in November.

Houses on the Stanley Street site have since been refused by the council due to contamination fears.

The Diocese has been approached for comment again on whether it would release the report but it has not responded.

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