Spodden Valley 'Greyfield' asbestos discussed at Westminster

Date published: 23 November 2017

Spodden Valley asbestos issues were discussed in the corridors of power in Westminster this week.

Tuesday's All-Party asbestos subcommittee heard from Graham Dring, Chairman of the UK Asbestos Victim Support Group Forum. He expressed concern about ongoing issues of environmental exposure to asbestos from the former Turner Brothers Asbestos (TBA) site.

Ongoing controversy continues about the Spodden Valley site with local people saying they have many unanswered questions about the asbestos testing techniques used by Rochdale Council and the landowners of the 70-acre site.

The subcommittee was asked to look into the relationship of both the public and private sector with responsibilities for planning, remediation and public safety relating to asbestos contaminated land.

Mr Dring says: "There is case for considering some 'brownfield' sites as especially hazardous. Perhaps creating a new classification, such as 'greyfield', is more appropriate to ensure such contaminated land is treated with the upmost respect. Standard testing and remediation techniques for complex asbestos sites may not be safe enough.

"We are concerned that local people and former asbestos workers have not had their concerns heeded. It is as if historical facts about the TBA site are an inconvenient truth that some want to see swept under the carpet."

Hilda Palmer of the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre added: "The Chancellor announced in the Budget that the Homes & Communities Agency is to be rebranded as 'Homes England'.

It is ironic that the new name omits 'community' the very people whose lungs are on the front line if grossly contaminated sites are improperly remediated.

"It is essential that there is transparency and accountability between those responsible for enforcing regulations designed to keep the public safe and those that they are supposed to be protecting.

"There is a danger of a closed 'club' of corporate lobbyists dominating land regeneration policy with cash-strapped bodies such as the HSE, Environment Agency and Local Authorities lacking the power and resources to put people before short-term profit.

"Toxic and blighted 'greyfield' sites such as TBA in the Spodden Valley could serve urban communities safely as 'green lungs' of amenity space."

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