Acre Mill asbestos: eye witnesses send statements to Planning Inspector:

Friday, 13 November 2009

The planning inspector has been sent signed statements from eye-witnesses who saw the dumping of considerable amounts of asbestos waste on the site where the Appelant wants to excavate and build a family home.

In the submission sent with the witness statements the following conclusions were made about asbestos dumping:

  • was previously owned and controlled by Cape Asbestos;
  • had previously been a field in agricultural use;
  • was dumped with substantial amounts of asbestos waste by Cape in the late 1960s;
  • the dumping raised the level of the land by several metres;
    that the dumping of asbestos by Cape was publicly knowledge;

  • a petition was sent to the local council complaining about asbestos dumping by Cape;
  • previous planning applications have been rejected; and
  • that no fixed structures have ever been built on the site

All submissions to the Planning Inspector have to be lodged in Bristol by this Thursday.

We then await the next steps towards the Public Inquiry (which is based on the written submission that have been sent rather than any public meeting).

In what could be a first for Youtube, content from the social networking site has been presented as evidence in a planning inquiry. (See below for links to YouTube clips)

Controversy has been sparked by a planning application to build an “eco home” within the hillside above the picturesque town of Hebden Bridge. Locals say they saw the land dumped with asbestos waste from the adjacent Cape Asbestos Acre Mill. Although the factory ceased asbestos production in 1970 there have been hundreds of cases of asbestos related disease and death from Acre Mill's killer fibre.

Jason Addy, a researcher at the Manchester Metropolitian Univerisity has cited webclips in his submission to the national Planning Inspector. These weblinks direct include excerpts from a 1982 Yorkshire Television documentary “Alice – Fight for Life” and a 1971 World In Action documentary about working conditions at the Cape factory- “The Dust At Acre Mill”. (See below for links)

A link has also been provided to a short film on YouTube that Mr Addy produced with Halifax based Calderdale Television. Entitled “Mesothelioma- The Human Face of an Asbestos Epidemic” the film records accounts of those affected by the terminal asbestos cancer.

Commenting on the Youtube clips Mr Addy says:

“The documentary footage is graphic and really brings home the toxic legacy of Acre Mill. Access to these historic images is invaluable. Concerned members of the community are desperate to demonstrate to the Planning Inspector that disturbing a known asbestos dump to build a family home could have catastrophic consequences”.

The landowner who is appealing Calderdale MBC planning rejection remains adamant that asbestos contamination is not an issue. This is strongly refuted by those who say they witnessed Cape dumping large amounts of asbestos on the site in the late 1960s. In addition to the YouTube links, signed witness statements giving precise accounts of the asbestos dumping have been sent to the Bristol based Planning Inspector.

John Sheppard, the co-producer of the 1971 World in Action documentary died last month. He had retained a keen interest in the legacy of sites contaminated with asbestos.

Mr Addy paid tribute to the late John Sheppard who he described as “an incredible investigative film maker whose documentaries, via Youtube, continue to highlight injustices caused by the lack of enforcement of laws created to protect the public. If the warnings in his work are heeded then future generations could be kept safe from disturbing contamination”.


See also:

Hebweb Feature on Acre Mill

Forum thread and Planning Watch for details of how to make your representations

Hebweb News - Cape Asbestos, Acre Mill and the risk posed by disturbing buried asbestos (Nov 2009)

Hebweb News - Cape Asbestos - Lest We Forget (October 2009)

Hebweb News: Alarm grows over plans which may disturb Acre Mill's deadly asbestos (March 2009)

Video clips: these groundbreaking documentaries retain their incredible power to highlight the damage and injustices caused by asbestos

World In Action: The Dust at Acre Mill (1972) - filmed in Hebden Bridge, with interviews with formers workers of Acre Mill.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Alice - Fight For Life: interview excerpts:

Part 1 | Part 2

Mesothelioma- The Human Face of an Asbestos Epidemic

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