Stowey Quarry to become an asbestos dump?
TV personality and GP Dr Phil Hammond has slammed Bath and North East Somerset Council for dropping its objection to the scheme to dump asbestos into Stowey Quarry.
The application to dump hazardous waste into a quarry situated above the region’s main drinking water reservoir, Chew Valley Lake, has met with fierce opposition. Stowey Sutton Action Group (SSAG) has led the fight against the application and more than 4,000 people signed a petition against the plans.
The council’s planning committee voted unanimously to reject the application to dump 645,000 tonnes of waste into Stowey Quarry in September 2012 but quarry owner Larry Edmunds appealed against the decision, prompting a public inquiry held earlier this month.
At the beginning of the inquiry Mr Edmunds was granted permission to amend his application, making asbestos the main material to be dumped there and removing other hazardous waste from the materials being dumped in the quarry.
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Originally he also wanted to dump “stable non-reactive hazardous waste” which concerned the council and the Environment Agency (EA) because they believed this was more likely to leak into ground water supplies.
After the amendment was granted the council and the EA withdrew their objections, leaving SSAG to fight the plans.
Dr Hammond, who lives less than a mile from the site in Bishop Sutton, has written an open letter to the council regarding his public health concerns.
Dr Hammond said: “Under legislation brought in by this Government, B&NES is directly responsible for both protecting and improving the public health of its constituents. Its abdication from that duty in this case from a failure to provide evidence when there is a risk of both perceived and actual public health harm – a recognised planning objection – could be legitimate cause for a negligence claim should any harm ensue.”
At the inquiry Dr Hammond said he still felt there was a great risk to public health and questioned whether any guarantee could be made that no hazardous waste would be included with the asbestos. His concerns were echoed by Bristol Water.
SSAG objected strongly to the proposals on many grounds, including the threat to the Chew Valley lake’s water resource, the unacceptable impact of 100 lorries a day travelling throughout the villages of the Chew Valley to reach the site, noise and dust pollution (there is no water supply to the quarry to enable dust to be damped down) and the threat to the environment and local wildlife including the endangered white clawed crayfish species.
The hearing resumes on October 3.