The report was commissioned by Rochdale Council in February 2006 while he was Leader of Rochdale Council. Since then Paul has worked with others to highlight their concerns about the site including an Adjournment Debate and numerous questions in the House of Commons.
Commenting on the report Paul said:
“This is a very thorough appraisal of the planning application and the survey work carried out on the site by the developers agents. It totally vindicates the concerns raised by myself, local residents and Councillors and the Spodden Valley Action Group. It is damming of the methods and information provided by the developers who have been attempting to secure planning permission to develop the site. The developers must now be regretting the comment in their Environmental Impact Statement, in which they said, "...of particular note is the absence of any asbestos contamination."
Paul continued, "That was a callous and inept attempt to hoodwink the Council and local residents into agreeing a development worth up to £100 million with no thought for the consequences for health and safety. I hope that further action will now be taken to bring those responsible for that statement to book. The Council officers particularly Ken Smith is to be congratulated for their firm and resolute stand. No development will take place on this site until these serious concerns are answered. The Atkins Report is an A-Z of how not to go about developing a brown field site and they are to be congratulated on their thoroughness in highlighting the woeful and cavalier attitude of the developers. We will need to study and digest these findings further and I will be meeting with colleagues and campaigners to discuss what happens next.”
Amongst the many detailed findings of the Atkins report are the following:
“Brown, blue and white asbestos has been identified on site, with blue asbestos (crocidolite) being identified in the ropeway area of the Northern Woodland Zone.
…… some of these areas are potentially unstable geotechnically, with recent asbestos exposure being identified at the surface as a result of tree and woodland soil instability.
The majority of analysis methods ( by the applicant) may not have detected the presence of asbestos in soils at levels sufficient resolution to inform a risk assessment.
No detailed human health risk assessment for asbestos exposure was undertaken by the applicant in support of the outline planning application.
No attempt has been made to assess the different exposure scenarios which may occur during redevelopment stages and post redevelopment stages for the site.
The remediation and redevelopment plans submitted by the applicant to date are not detailed.
That demolition materials sourced from the on site factory buildings might contain asbestos
There are currently no definitive UK regulatory criteria for the occurrence of asbestos in soil. It is understood the Environment Agency is currently in consultation with other government bodies (HSE, HPA) regarding the possible derivation of “acceptable” concentrations in soil.”
Source: Asbestos Environmental Review of Outline Planning Submission D44701 – Former Turner Brothers Asbestos Plant.