Agenda and draft minutes

Extraordinary, Environment and Sustainability Committee - Wednesday, 3 November 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, Knowle Green, Staines-upon-Thames TW18 1XB

Contact: Chris Curtis  Email: c.curtis@spelthorne.gov.uk

Link: Members of the public may hear the proceedings by tuning into the Council's YouTube channel

Items
No. Item

503.

Disclosures of Interest

To receive any disclosures of interest from councillors in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct for members.

Minutes:

There were none.

 

504.

Questions from members of the Public

The Chair, or his nominee, to answer any questions raised by members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 40.

 

Note: the deadline for questions to be considered at this meeting is 5pm on day, date i.e day after agenda publication.

 

At the time of publication of this agenda XX questions were received.

 

List the questions and who has asked it

Minutes:

There were none.

 

505.

Request for site investigation of land to rear of Thames Side

To consider a report on progress made to date relating to a request for a full contaminated land site investigation at landfill to the rear of Thames Side.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This Extraordinary meeting was held at the request of the Committee to advise on how the Council could progress a site investigation of the land to the rear of Thameside, report on the outcome and consider whether any further measures might be necessary.

 

Tracey Willmott-French, Senior Environmental Health Manager, presented the report which provided historical information relating to the death of Zane Gbangbola including a summary of the Coroner’s findings and conclusions.  It also provided details of actions taken by Spelthorne Borough Council at the time and subsequently in the light of potential new evidence brought forward.  The only power available to the Council’s to instigate investigation of the site was Part 2a of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and this should only be used when no alternative was available. A detailed Desk Study in accordance with the Statutory Guidance had been conducted at the time of the Coroner’s inquest and it had concluded that the risk profile at the site did not meet the criteria to either proceed to further even more detailed assessment or for the site to be categorised as ‘contaminated land’ under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

 

A great deal of work was already underway by the Environmental Health team to review the existing evidence and consider what further information was required and how to obtain this in order to provide advice to the Committee on how this could be progressed.

 

Further information about the environmental permit/licence arrangements for the site was required to establish the Council’s options and powers to consider the Committee’s request and a Freedom of Information (FOI) request had been submitted to the Environment Agency in respect of this.   The Environment Agency had responded with details of the permits for the land to the south of the M3 behind Thameside and also the land to the north of the M3.  As the permits had not been surrendered, the environment permit regime was likely to take precedence over the Part 2A powers of the Council.

 

A FOI request was to be submitted to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the week commencing 8 November, following the BBC’s report that a whistleblower from the MoD had stated that he believed sub-contractors had dumped waste chemicals in the gravel pits behind Thameside which he considered could produce cyanide.   It was necessary to conduct a considerable amount of research prior to submitting the FOI to ensure that the request was suitably worded to ensure that the correct information was obtained.

 

Legal advice had been sought as to actions available to the Council but further information was needed before this could be properly considered.

Councillor Gething commented that whilst he had every sympathy for the family who had suffered a terrible tragedy, having read all the documents available he considered that the matter had been thoroughly and extensively investigated previously and the grounds for seeking further investigation of the site were tenuous. 

 

It transpired from Committee members’ comments, that an email had been sent  ...  view the full minutes text for item 505.

506.

Urgent business

To consider any business deemed as urgent by the chair.

Minutes:

There was none.