Council plans to sell off green spaces across Newcastle Borough were embroiled in fresh controversy today after the town’s MP, Paul Farrelly, disclosed evidence linking one of the sites earmarked for development with a source of toxic waste.
Mr Farrelly revealed that 21 years ago Newcastle Borough Council shelved proposals to develop housing on land off Clayhanger Close, Bradwell, because of the risk of serious contamination from an adjacent landfill tip.
At that time the Council carried out tests in the gardens of local residents who were alarmed by the presence of methane gas leaking on the site from the tip, which closed in 1979.
Consultant engineers were then called in by the Council to investigate the ground conditions and warned that the former tip contained highly toxic liquid and sludge.
The Council was subsequently advised by its own officers that before any housing could go ahead on the site more than £300,000 would have to be spent on installing a barrier to stop the further spread of methane gas.
The Clayhanger Close site is earmarked for 100 houses and is one of many sites across Newcastle that the Borough Council wants to sell to replenish its dwindling financial resources.
But the Council has been forced to suspend planning applications for the first sites following a huge backlash from residents opposed to the loss of local amenity areas.
Evidence that the Bradwell site has historic problems with pollution prompted Mr Farrelly to renew his demand for the disposal programme to be halted.
“The Council has been extremely secretive about its proposed sale of green spaces and has continued to conceal information that I have requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
“Now clear evidence has come to light that the Bradwell site has a history of contamination. I am appalled and dismayed that this has not been disclosed openly by the Council. Either the Council was aware of the history of this site or it has chosen to press on regardless.
“It is simply unacceptable for the Council to consider developing any housing on land with a known risk of contamination. I will be writing to the Council once again asking for the whole disposal programme in its present form to be abandoned.”