Campaigners launch fundraising drive for judicial review against plans to build hundreds of homes near Somercotes
Campaigners in Somercotes are fundraising for a judicial review against plans to build hundreds of houses in '˜dangerously close proximity to several historic hazardous landfills.
The battle to prevent housing from being built close to the former landfill site has raged on for half a century.
Despite these fears, members of the Amber Valley Borough Council planning committee voted through an application for 200 houses in Birchwood Lane, close to the former tip, in June.
The vote had been at a deadlock at six votes each way, but chairman Cllr Norman Bull had the casting vote and approved the development.
Campaigners, many of whom are part of the group Somercotes Against Development, believe that nobody really knows what may have leaked into the ground off from the former waste site, and what potential harm any chemicals could have caused to residents in the area.
Experts for the developers say that Pubkic Health England has said there is no danger.
But campaigners say their own environmental expert is said to have been “horrified by what he found”.
Now the campaign group has started a fundraising page to help pay for a judicial review into the application.
This would bankroll the group’s legal expenses and a further contamination expert.
It aims to raise £2,000 by Sunday, November 18, and has already raised £1,350 towards this goal as of this article’s publication.
Spokesperson for the group, Kellie Judson, a lifelong resident of Somercotes, says that it is “high time we had answers to what our landfills contain and whether we are safe”.
She wrote: “Whilst we totally understand the current housing crisis and the need for new housing to be built, that housing must be fit for purpose.
“With land at a minimum and pressure from the Government to meet housing targets, decisions like these are being made nationwide.
“In some ways we are lucky, we know about the contamination in our area. Do you?
“We are very concerned about our health, the health of our families and the health of new residents who may move into these houses.
“We want transparency into what these landfill sites contain and how dangerous they are to human health and the environment.
“Only a full comprehensive investigation of the entire area under part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act will give our community the answers we deserve. “In the first instance though, we need to stop the current development – if this goes ahead, there will be no chance of a proper investigation.
“And this isn’t just about our town – this about holding local authorities accountable for making decisions that could cause potential health and safety risks to residents.
“We don’t think this should be allowed to happen here or anywhere else in the UK.”
Ms Judson said that in 1976, when residents were protesting against the “noise, grime and pollution” coming from the site, the landfills in the area caught fire and were “glowing like lava”.
She said: “Even the fire brigade would not touch them because they were full of toxic waste.”
During the Birchwood Lane debate in June, Troy Smith, who lives near where the development will be, said the proposal presented a “clear and present danger to all living near to the site” and that it is “widely known to be contaminated”.
An agent for the application reassured that Public Health England had looked over the proposals and deemed them safe.
He said that the site could be made usable and remediation would take place to ensure this.
A planning application for almost 99 homes was also submitted in July for fields across the road from Amber Valley Rugby Club, off B600 Lower Somercotes.
The borough council has yet to consider this application.