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Residents Left In The Dark Over Toxic Waste Risk From Stoney Castle Illegal Dump

Published on: 27 Aug, 2021
Updated on: 27 Aug, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Following GBC’s early morning operation in July to evict occupants and clear non-waste items from the Stoney Castle illegal waste dump, residents have been left in the dark on what will happen to the tonnes of illegal waste remaining piled up on the site and the potential for toxic waste claimed to be present leaking into local streams.

Waste remaining at the Stoney Castle Dump, said to have been photographed in late July 2021 after GBC had left.

The site has a history of unauthorised waste dumping and planning enforcement issues over the last 30 years. There have been rumours and uncorroborated photos of suspected toxic waste which, it is feared, might have contaminated nearby streams.

The Environment Agency (EA) has declined to comment on plans for testing or for dealing with the potentially hazardous waste at the illegal dump, only saying: “The Environment Agency visited the site on July 28 with partners, Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council to visually assess the site and any risks posed to the environment. We will continue to assess any reports of pollution received within our normal incident reporting procedures.

“The landowner remains the person responsible for ensuring that no pollution is caused by the site.”

A GBC spokesperson said: “We heard residents’ concerns about the rumours of toxic waste polluting the land, local streams, and canals. We have passed these concerns onto the Environment Agency, who are aware of the situation and are responsible for waste on the land and testing the local stream and canal for contamination.”

Mark Bray-Parry.

Mark Bray-Parry, Green Party representative for Guildford, said in a letter to the EA, SCC and GBC that local residents have started to link the “visible liquid discharge in the adjacent brook” with health concerns.

He has called for urgent action on testing the waste and asked whether residents will be “informed of the test results and appropriate action taken to secure hazardous waste on-site”.

A GBC press release on August 5 said: “225 tonnes of non-waste materials, 66 cars and caravans, more than 100 tyres, a barn and 3,000 litres of unidentified liquids including oils and fuels” were removed by GBC contractors. The statement said they had “closed the entrance to the site with concrete bollards to help prevent further breaches.”

The operation was budgeted at £180,000. GBC said they were are looking to recover their expenses from the landowner.

There were still piles of rubble, oil drums, skips and general waste visible through the locked gates of the site in early August 2021.

Cllr Keith Witham.

County and borough councillor for Pirbright, Keith Witham (Cons), has been consistently firm that the landowners should not profit from any waste clear up by the authorities.

He said: “The Environment Agency will, quite rightly, be circumspect in what it says publicly about possible pollution, for exactly the same reasons as GBC was circumspect in what it said publicly before its recent investigations and enforcement action, as anything they say in public will then be known to perpetrators.

“But I have asked GBC, as the most recent lead-authority regarding Stoney Castle, to arrange a meeting of all the agencies involved, and as soon as there is more information that can be released publicly, it will be. And I will continue to keep Pirbright residents informed.”

In his letter, Mr Bray-Parry said he was looking at a “potential proposal whereby a company that recycles hardcore could potentially remove a substantial volume of waste from the site. This could reduce the total cost of clearing the site substantially”.  The plan would need EA and SCC approval and the site tested to allow rubble to be removed safely.

He concluded: “I do hope that we can find a way forward to this complex situation. In the meantime, I hope you appreciate the urgency of the potential toxic waste testing and are able to get tests/results published so that residents can be assured that their health is not at risk.”

Members of the public can report pollution on the Environment Agency free 24-hour Incident Hotline 0800 80 70 60.

See GBC Dramatic Early Morning Operation At Stoney Castle To Stop Illegal Dumping and Council Leader ‘Understands Frustration Over Stoney Castle Secrecy.

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