CAMPAIGNERS have refuted claims The Lench Meadows in Stratford is “safe for all” after the Environment Agency was called to intervene amid public safety concerns.
Specialist testing has been been carried out on the site which is being redeveloped as part of a £2million riverside project, along with the adjacent Fisherman’s car park.
The joint project by Stratford District Council and Stratford Town Trust was given the go-ahead in November 2021 and involves rejuvenating the area to attract more visitors as well as providing a local nature reserve for existing wildlife.
The plans include the creation of extra paths and cycleways, and new bridges to provide better access for people in wheelchairs.
But concerns were raised by local Facebook group, Friends of the Lench Meadows that an old tip on the site had been disturbed since work began and there was evidence of broken glass, domestic and medical waste and asbestos.
Council reports of the time stated there was no risk of potential contamination of the land.
But as a result of concerns, the town trust commissioned Hydrock, a Land Contamination specialist, to carry out a post project review.
The report revealed that there was a minimal risk to the public accessing the Lench Meadows but several recommendations were made.
These included that an area on the smaller mound to the east was subject to a further hand pick to remove near surface inappropriate materials and the area was dressed in appropriate clean soils, that an airborne monitoring assessment is undertaken to indicate any asbestos fibre release from the ground, and that SDC provides Hydrock’s findings and the background information which supports it to the Environment Agency.
The three recommendations have now been successfully actioned, according to SDC, including an airborne monitoring assessment to indicate any asbestos fibre release from the ground. Ten samples were taken for analysis and all gave satisfactory results, revealing no danger to the public from airborne asbestos fibres.
The Environment Agency are satisfied that the materials involved in this project were all low risk and suitable for use as indicated, and as such will not be subject to waste regulatory action.
Sara Aspley, Chief Executive at Stratford Town Trust said: “Public safety is of paramount importance, and we are extremely reassured by the airborne testing results and the expert view of land contamination specialist, Hydrock and the Environment Agency, that the area is safe for the public to use.
“We are working towards achieving Local Nature Reserve status in the coming months to provide long term protection, support and protect habitats and species and allow everyone to get close to nature.”
The Friends of Lench Meadows said they still remained unconvinced.
They included on their Facebook page photos taken since the Environment Agency report which still show pieces of ceramics and broken glass protruding out of the ground.
And the group also raised concerns about the future maintenance of the site.
A spokesperson said: “Walk round the site and you will see bare, harrowed soil, dead and dying trees, saplings disappearing under weeds, weed killed areas, areas being reseeded for the fourth time, and glass and ceramic debris. Who is planning the future of this much loved site?”
SDC said information about the progress of the Riverside project could be found at www.stratfordriverside.com