Gunville residents warn asbestos could be released if homes built

A resident suffering from asbestosis has warned that if a Gunville development goes ahead, local people could end up with the same condition as him.

The Isle of Wight Council granted permission for a cul-de-sac development of 12 homes on the land adjacent to 255 Gunville Road in October, despite evidence appearing to show the site was contaminated.

Environmental Health also warned that the site had previously been a refuse dump, munitions storage and an ash dump for a brickworks.

They recommended a four step approach to checking the area was safe before the local authority approved any groundworks or building.

However the council still approved the planning application on October 30, with a ten to two vote.

Gunville resident Keith Wilson, 70, suffers from the silent killer, asbestosis, himself.

Keith Wilson fears the silent killer of asbestos could be dug up if the development goes ahead

He explained that the site had previously been a dump for brick and coal works, with ash in there that could contain arsenic, cyanide and mercury. He said the area had also been used as a municipal dump, that was unregulated.

He added: “There is asbestos in there, I am convinced of that.”

Mr Wilson warned that if the area is dug up for the development, it would likely release asbestos into the atmosphere.

He said: “Of the six people that were contaminated by the Russian nerve agent Novichok, five survived. If six people were contaminated with asbestos, and got asbestosis, all six would die.”

Mr Wilson is not alone in his concerns, as local residents Brian Break and Bill Moore share his fears.

From left, Brian Break, Bill Moore and Keith Wilson are all concerned about the land being dug up and pollutants released

Councillor Michael Lilley (Ryde East, Ind Grn), voted against the plans.

He explained that opposing residents to the plans may find it “near impossible” to reverse the decision.

“A developer can easily appeal to the inspector if they get a decision [made against them]. Residents can’t,” said Cllr Lilley.  “To me it’s one of those unfair situations.”

Cllr Lilley said writing to local councillors, and keeping on eye on whether or not preconditions or met could help.

And if the residents have the money, its possible to take the case to a judicial review.

Cllr Lilley also suggested speaking Cllr Barry Abraham (Wootton Bridge, Con), the cabinet member for planning.

“But to change the decision now is pretty impossible,” said Cllr Lilley.

An Isle of Wight Council spokesman said: “Planning application TCP/33425, P/00354/18 was considered by the Planning Committee in October, and resolved for planning permission. The permission is yet to be issued, as it is subject to a legal agreement, which is currently being drafted.

“Given the possibility for some contamination at this site, the officer recommended a condition should be imposed to include a four-stage process, to ensure due regard is taken to the possibility of contamination being found at this site. If required, it would be remediated.

“This condition has been imposed as a pre-commencement condition to ensure contamination risks are addressed prior to the development taking place.

“To date, no works have taken place.

“The Planning Authority cannot comment on what contaminants may be present, because that information will not be at hand until the planning condition has been complied with.”