Shock over Whitecraigs contamination report

Some of the protestors with their children pictured at the site
Some of the protestors with their children pictured at the site

Renewed calls have been made for housing planned for Whitecraigs Bowling Club to be refused after a report showed the land is polluted.

The report, which was prepared by Crossfield Consulting and was lodged by developers Mccarthy & Stone with papers at East Renfrewshire Council, makes worrying reading for people living in the area.

This indicates that the ground upon which the bowling club sits has quantities of lead, chromium, copper and nickel at such levels that they pose a real danger to health, with young children at greater risk from these contaminants than mature adults.

As an example, the level of lead was reported as being 1800mg per kilo against a maximum safe level of 627mg/kg. Similarly, nickel was found to be present at levels of 1100mg/kg against the maximum safe level of 130mg/kg.

Such is the worry over the extremely high levels of contamination, that the report goes on to recommend that workmen on the site should be supplied with protective equipment.

While the report also indicates that the toxic subsoil base could easily be removed to landfill, McCarthy & Stone has stated it doesn’t intend to do so - partly for reasons of cost. The Extra has learnt that such waste would require to be labelled as ‘special’ (hazardous) waste when disposed of.

A spokesman for the campaign group fighting against the development said: “The report indicates that the proposed work on the development site will present risks to workmen, those in neighbouring properties and the general public, and says dampening down of the site would be required to reduce toxic dust particles which could be inhaled by workmen or those neighbouring the site.

“The report suggests that the contaminants in the soil will not present a risk to the proposed residents because of their mature age, that the soil will be covered by the development or fresh topsoil and the residents will not be permitted to carry out any gardening and so will not have any form of direct contact with the soil.

“However, the report does not address the very real and worrying issue of risk to the health of those in the adjoining properties where children live and the tennis club has a significant membership of children who play regularly.

“We cannot be expected to live on a building site which will create a poisonous miasma of chemical laden dust to potentially affect our and other children.”

A spokesperson for the developers responded: “McCarthy & Stone has considerable experience of developing sites safely and would not progress an application if a site was deemed to be a risk to the public or construction workers.

“Generic assessment criteria is not a measure of maximum safe levels. It simply indicates that further site specific assessments should be carried out. These further assessments concluded that while there are high concentrations of some metals, as is typical of brownfield sites, there is negligible risk – a risk assessment can never indicate zero risk. As such, soil is not required to be removed.

“Two construction management techniques were recommended to mitigate any risk and soil dampening is routinely carried out at most sites as a matter of good practice.”

The residents’ group replied: “In terms of their own report this clearly states that one of the reasons they don’t want to remove the contaminated ground is cost. The developers have attempted to justify that position, saying that as the proposed residents are older and wouldn’t be allowed to garden in the communal gardens then they won’t be at risk. The clear inference from that claim is that those who come into contact with it will be at risk.

“Moreover their report does not address the effect hosing it down would have on lower lying properties where children live which, according to the report, are most at risk.”

The Extra has made continual attempts to speak with the club who refuse to return our calls. In a letter to club members last month, Stewart Mowatt, chairman of the development committee, has told members not to speak to the press.

We now extend an open invitation to meet with the committee at a time and date of their choosing to discuss this situation.

A spokeswoman for East Renfrewshire Council said: “This report is standard procedure when submitting a planning application of this nature and our environmental health team will now consider it at length.

“A report on any historic contamination is a necessary part of the planning application process and environmental health can ask for a more detailed, physical investigation to take place before drawing any conclusions.”