Committee to note the dust characterisation report and to agree a way of bringing the committee’s monitoring of the site to a close. Members may wish to start reading at the summary (section 6 on page 12).
Indicative timing - 3.00pm-3.20pm
Discussion was invited of the DustScan Directional Dust Characterisation report, which was completed in May 2010 on behalf the Environment Agency (Tewkesbury). It was based on the samples taken throughout 2008 as the most recent complete calendar year of samples across all seasons.
Sarah Dennis, PPC Compliance Officer and Stuart Baker, Environment Manager from the Environment Agency, explained the background to the report, some of which was already known to the committee. They reminded the committee that the original brief had been to undertake a ‘nuisance’ study. Four samples collected in a field opposite the site entrance showed APC residues present in the dust, but it is not clear whether these residues have a health impact. The Environment Agency (EA) and the Health Protection Agency (HPA) will meet on Friday 23 July to determine what further information the HPA need to produce their health impact assessment and how much time they will need. Stuart Baker will contact Councillor Gravells with the outcomes of this meeting.
Action: Stuart Baker
A Member asked a question about why 2008 samples were used rather than 2009 samples, as it would have seemed more logical to use the most recent samples. Sarah Dennis explained that the report was commissioned in the middle of 2009. Grundon had started using a different covering on their landfill site during 2009 and results would not have been consistent and comparable if 2008/09 samples had been used. Timescales have always been difficult to determine because weather conditions have a huge impact on the quality of the samples, for example, rain is a hindrance.
Stuart Baker stated that the EA has made it a priority to conclude this work as soon as is realistically possible. They will rely on the HPA for completion of the next stage. He suggested that further sampling might help to identify the components of APC in light of the four positive samples.
Shona Arora said that the HPA have attempted to comment on the health impact of APC residues, but APC contains a multitude of elements and without knowing exactly what they are, it is difficult to assess the impact. The possible effects of human exposure are likely to be graded, and more information about the grades/levels is needed to make an informed judgement.
A Member asked whether the correct question had been asked at the beginning of the process. Rather than “Is there a nuisance?” he suggested that the question should have been “What is the risk to health?” Dr Arora said that the Wingmoor Liaison Forum have looked at everything they can think of in terms of health risk. National and international evidence suggests that there is no risk to human health, but ‘nuisance’ can have an impact of people’s wellbeing. This led to the specific strand of inquiry being chosen. The EA took existing methodology, which was not necessarily correct for the task, and pushed it as far as they could. This has left unanswered questions. She added that she was reassured that the EA are taking public concerns seriously and pursuing the work.
Councillor Jones, councillor for Cleeve, thanked Councillor Gravells for giving the local community a voice, and was grateful for the urgency given to the requests of the committee. He feared however that the further this investigation continues, the more questions will be left unanswered. For years the public were told that nothing escaped from the site, but the monitoring showed APC some 250 metres away from the perimeter. He was reassured that the EA and the Director of Public Health thought that the concerns were important, but said that the public still needed to know the risks, particularly the risks to children and young people. All agencies have a duty to inform, which must be upheld. He concluded by asking the committee to recommend to the Planning Committee that it should not consider the current planning application until all the questions about health impact are answered.
Councillor Gravells replied that the Health, Community & Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee would not get involved in Planning Committee business, as there were Members present who would have to vote on this and other planning applications in the future. He said that this committee can only comment directly on health issues.
Councillor Gravells asked for a speedy resolution, and requested that reports be presented in a less technical format in the future. He thanked the officers present for answering Members’ questions so patiently and asked that Wingmoor Farm be discussed further at the next meeting in September.
Action: Elizabeth Power