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Council Leader ‘Understands Frustration’ Over Stoney Castle Secrecy

Published on: 27 Jul, 2021
Updated on: 29 Jul, 2021

An image from an “Illegal Waste” campaign group YouTube video said to be of the Stoney Castle dump.

By Martin Giles

The leader of Guildford Borough Council has told The Guildford Dragon NEWS that he understands the frustration members of the public might feel about the lack of information about their operation at the Stoney Castle dump.

The site off Grange Road in Pirbright, next to an Army rifle range and danger area, was taken over by GBC on July 12. It has been alleged that toxic substances have been dumped there and that pollution of nearby watercourses might have occurred.

Dragon reporters have been denied any access and prevented from even taking photographs of the site entrance.

Clearance of possessions on the site by GBC is now understood to be coming to an end and information is awaited about any plan for dealing with the waste.

See relevant articles here.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

Cllr Joss Bigmore, GBC leader of Guildford Borough Council and the lead councillor for the Environment James Steel, wrote, in a joint letter:

We understand the frustration felt by many at the fact that we cannot currently say more about our work regarding Stoney Castle.

This should be a good news story and a significant move forward in the plan to clean up this area of our countryside, but this is a sensitive and complex enforcement case with a number of legal issues that need to be considered.

Cllr James Steel

Personally, we’d rather tell you exactly what has been happening, but in case we jeopardise police and other ongoing investigations we are unable to do so.

Firstly, let us explain some of the background of the site, which is privately owned.

The enforcement of waste issues is the responsibility of Surrey County Council (SCC) and the Environment Agency (EA). We are responsible for planning enforcement and environmental health matters.

Other agencies have been involved at the site when needed such as Surrey
Police and Surrey Fire and Rescue.

GBC served two planning enforcement notices in 2013 after those at the site built a barn and changed the usage of the land for storage, without planning permission. In 2018 we served Environmental Health notices.

We attended the site to take direct action on Monday, 12 July. This work involves a number of factors and we have spoken with those responsible for the site and the occupiers living on the land prior to attending the site.

Once we have removed caravans, a barn and other non-waste items being stored on the land, SCC and the EA will then be able to address the waste issues.

We are committed to carrying out the necessary direct action to achieve compliance with our notices and have budgeted £180,000 for our part in this operation.

I am sorry if the public feels we are being secretive. As with any operation like this, it comes with great responsibility and has been carefully planned; we simply cannot prejudice the enforcement or the investigation and our officers and contractors need to keep the site secure for the health and safety of everyone.

*Originally this article stated James Whiteman was the co-author of the letter. We apologise for the error.

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