Asbestos test shock for TBA site

Date published: 07 March 2013

New soil tests on the TBA site have confirmed asbestos contamination in most of the test holes recently dug.

Earlier this year United Utilities did asbestos air testing and detected elevated levels.

United Utilities also commissioned a company called WSP to conduct soil testing to test specific areas that were to be dug to allow a small trench for electricity cabling to power the new water treatment improvements for drains above the River Spodden.

The testing has been from Shawclough Road along a track known as Hollows Lane that leads to the former TBA site. The vast majority of the testing holes dug have confirmed the presence of asbestos all along the testing area.

The areas were asbestos has now been repeatedly found is the same area were the 2004 planning application wanted to build dozens of homes with gardens and apartments.

This is the same area where Encia Consulting Ltd (now dissolved) also tested but the developer’s consultants didn’t finding anything remarkable.

Commenting on behalf of the Save Spodden Valley campaign, Jason Addy said: “For 9 years we have raised legitimate concerns about past test results and the way expert consultants have ceased trading. Exposure to asbestos takes decades before it can manifest itself as a cruel terminal cancer. A permanent solution to contamination on the former TBA site needs full accountability and credibility. How can this be achieved when companies can set up and close down with apparent impunity?

“A report that stated in 2004 'of particular note is the absence of any asbestos contamination' has proven to be utter nonsense. The recent test results confirming widespread asbestos contamination are shocking but not surprising. Former workers and residents have been warning of this for years - but it seems many of those with responsibility for the site have turned a blind eye. Why is that?

“Following Simon Danczuk's [MP for Rochdale] questions in the House of Commons, action is being now being taken by the Parliamentary All-Party Asbestos subcommittee.

“The people of Rochdale deserve answers and action to make the Spodden Valley permanently safe for future generations.”


In December 2004 a planning application was submitted for the former TBA site. With this application was a report from a business called “DPP”, (Design Planning Partnership) who stated, at paragraph 5.30 of the Environmental Statement (non-technical summary), “of particular note is the absence of any asbestos contamination.”

Controversy raged and over 1,000 individual letters of objection were lodged with Rochdale Planning Department. Many expressed concerns about the methods and findings of the consultants employed to advise on contamination.

In 2005, another firm of environmental specialists – Encia Consulting Ltd - were employed by the developers. Encia conducted further tests that supported the planning application and a view that asbestos contamination did not appear to be a big issue for areas of the site were permission to build houses and apartments was being sought.

An area to the east of the main factory buildings was historically home to TBA sports facilities, including a bowling green and tennis courts. The area is close to housing estates built in the late 1980s (Fallowfield Drive and Foot Wood, etc).

Since their confident reports about the former TBA site for the planning application that was finally refused in January 2011, both DPP and Encia Consulting Ltd are no longer trading businesses.

DPP went into Administration in August 2012.

Encia Consulting Ltd went into Administration and was wound up in 2008.


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