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Anti-Asbestos campaigners to 'go bananas' against Countryside Properties PLC

Save Spodden Valley campaign | 26.07.2006 01:19 | Ecology | Health | Social Struggles | World

Wednesday 26th July:

Anti-Asbestos campaigners are to ‘go bananas’ this evening outside Rochdale Town Hall from 5.45pm – 6.15pm.

Strict council rules ban placards and banners inside the Town Hall so the campaigners hope to get their point across with Fairtrade soft fruit.

They say the planning system is ‘bananas’ where local council taxpayers have to pay up to £80,000 for a report that heavily criticises the past actions of property speculators who wish to build a £100 million development with a planning fee of just £5500.

Anti-Asbestos campaigners 'go bananas'...
Anti-Asbestos campaigners 'go bananas'...

In December 2004, Countryside Properties, MMC Estates and Rathbone Jersey Ltd submitted a joint planning application for over 600 homes and a children’s nursery on the site of what was the world’s biggest asbestos factory- Turner & Newall in the Spodden Valley of Rochdale.

The developers’ Environmental Statement (at para 5.30) concluded:

“Of particular note is the absence of any asbestos contamination”

BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme has just broadcast an investigation into the controversial planning application.

The BBC broadcast about the 300 page Independent report, just published by environmental consultants Atkins Global, concludes:

---That previous site testing for contamination was seriously inadequate;

---Previous testing omitted detectable traces of asbestos and other contaminants that could cause a risk to human health;

---No effective air sampling has been done on the site;

---The methods of soil sampling are unreliable;

---Conclusions drawn from the developers’ tests are unreliable and the analysis used is questionable.

---The asbestos dumping in the North of the site could be up to 4.5 metres thick.

National radio listeners heard an interview with Ken Smith, Rochdale Council’s Head of Planning, who said:

“I’m not surprised by the [Atkins Reports] findings. I think it has confirmed what we already knew, that the information which has been submitted and the extent of the investigations which had been undertaken prior to the application being submitted were inadequate.

“It’s not just a matter of doing further work and investigations. I think they [the developers] need to go right back to the beginning and look at the whole submission again- including the Environmental Statement.

“They have got to prove that the site can be developed satisfactorily - and they have a lot of work to do to prove that.

“Until they satisfy us that the site can be developed safely, then, they [the developers] don’t have a chance”.

During this evening’s demonstration, campaigners will hand out leaflets thanking council officers and councillors, MPs and MEP’s of all parties for their continued commitment to health and safety.

A huge bill for £80,000 (stamped “overdue”) to Countryside Properties, MMC Estates and Rathbone Jersey Ltd will be presented to the Leader of the Council, Cllr Alan Taylor and Rochdale’s MP, Paul Rowen.

Note to editors:

Rochdale is proud to be a FairTrade Borough.

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium.

A council composting bin will be available for the used banana skins after the event.

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  1. Some photos from Rochdale Town Hall — Save Spodden Valley campaign