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ENZO DEVELOPMENT - CONTAMINATED LAND

 

This page provides evidence that Neath Port Talbot Council planning department have deliberately placed the lives of Glynneath residents at risk in 2010 by not following the council's rules and regulations relating to contaminated land as defined in the 2005 NPTC Contaminated Land Strategy. The planning department in 2010 hid the fact that the land at the Heol-y-Glyn site is contaminated with grade 1 classified carcinogens which clearly breaks the Neath Port Talbot Council Contaminated Land Regulations and most probably the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as well. 

We have provided evidence of this to the several members of the council including the council leader and they are currently attempting to cover up the planning department misconduct in 2010 by fabricating information and refusing to investigate the actions of the planning department at this time. This contravenes the both the staff code of conduct and the purpose and values of Neath Port Talbot Council as defined in the NPTC Corporate Plan.

Evidence relating to this misconduct can be found on this page.

 

Site History

THE ENZO DEVELOPMENT ON THE SITE FORMERLY OWNED BY THE CUDDY GROUP ALSO KNOWN AS 'THE ASH TIP' OR THE TIP

Historically the land has been used for the last 80+ years as landfill, both municipal and industrial. Long term residents of the area always refer the site as 'the ash tip' or 'the tip'. These include Maureen Llewellyn who was born in 1938 and has always lived in Woodland Park, she can remember the site as a tip during her childhood, Pam Thomas who has lived in Woodland Park since 1960, Jane Powell who has lived in Brynhyfryd for 51 years and whose uncle George Anton was a refuse collector in the early 1950s, Jennifer Woodward of Brynhyfryd has lived overlooking the tip for the last 50 years and Ray Jones, Glynneath resident whose father worked the tip with Will James (the Cefn). Ray's father was the driver, circa 1940 and is of the opinion that Neath Rural District council took over the tip about then.

The land was sold and has been in private ownership for at about the last 50 years. A private housing developer from Aberdare owned the land obtained planning permission for a housing development in 1989. The land was eventually acquired by the Cuddy Group Ltd. The Cuddy Group used the 'tip' for their main line of business which was demolition and remediation including asbestos removal. In 2003 the Cuddy Group submitted plans to build houses on the site. These plans were approved by Neath-Port Talbot Council in 2005.  Cuddy continued to tip on the site without consideration to any future development, in 2017 a residents action group concerned about the Aberfan style tip looming above their houses successfully ended the Cuddy tipping with the aid of local councillors. No groundwork for a housing development has taken place and there is no evidence that the Cuddy Group intended to build houses. It is thought that the housing development proposed by Cuddy was a front for the illegal tipping of asbestos and toxic waste. Several residents have witnessed what the believe to be asbestos tipped o the site and others have noted barrels of chemical waste.

Contaminated Land Identified

6/11/2008 32-contamination-marked.jpg (377419 bytes)

In 2008 the Cuddy Group attempted to meet condition 17 (access road borehole testing) imposed by the council planning department. Part of the condition was that a "Geotechnical Survey" of the ground be submitted . 

A Geo-technical and Geo-environmental report was submitted on the 26 November 2008. This was prepared for Moore Knight Limited by Terra Firma (Wales) Limited. The report found that of the 6 soil samples sent for chemical testing, 4 tested above the recognised safe levels for the presence of a recognised contaminants, therefore the land was designated as contaminated by the surveyors and with a suggested Remediation Strategy. With 4 out of 6 samples testing as contaminated, this would suggest that at least 66% of the land was contaminated. Two of the contaminants were grade 1 classified carcinogens Arsenic and Benzo[a]pyrene. The remediation strategy also included suggested that an 'asbestos waste removal' licence be obtained.

The survey also provided evidence of Category 1 or 2 contamination showing a pathway from source to receptor. The receptors included neighbouring residents (Heol y Glyn, Woodland Park, Brynhyfryd, the Inter Valley Road and Waun Gron).

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The above application was withdrawn on 2/4/2009  - CLICK HERE 

No reason was given for its withdrawal and the Geo-technical and Geo-environmental report or contamination was never referred to again in the planning process which is still ongoing.

 

NPTC obligations

The Neath Port Talbot Council Planning Department were bound by law to pass on the contamination information to the Contaminated Land Team at Neath Port Talbot Council. This they should have already done by the end of April 2009 because the council has to abide by the.............

Environmental Protection Act 1990 - Part IIA

Council regulations for contaminated land in 2008 were contained in the 2005 NPTC Contaminated Land Strategy. This document states 

"Part IIA of the Environment Protection Act 1990, was introduced in Wales on July 1st 2001, until this time there had been no strategic approach to the identification of contaminated land. Land contamination had always been addressed during redevelopment or when the risk has manifested itself. Since 2001, all local authorities have a duty to inspect their areas, locate and ensure the remediation of all statutory designated contaminated land. One of the key objectives of the council's strategy (Key Objective 4:) is to ensure that during the redevelopment of new sites, land contamination issues are dealt with effectively and at an early stage of the planning process."

The document says that the contamination should have been dealt in the early stages of the planning process. If we refer again to the..................

Environmental Protection Act 1990 - Part IIA

........Identification of contaminated land.

The opening points of which are................

(1) Every local authority shall cause its area to be inspected from time to time for the purpose—

(a) of identifying contaminated land; and

(b) of enabling the authority to decide whether any such land is land which is required to be designated as a special site.

The presence of Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) in the soil as identified the Geo-technical and Geo-environmental report would suggest that this may be a special site. If we look at the following examples of councils in England, both Reading and Slough who have discovered BaP in soil within their authority, we will see that an above level of the contaminant Benzo[a]pyrene is considered enough for these sites to be designated as 'special' and for the land to referred to the Environment Agency.

SLOUGH CONTAMINATION - CLICK HERE

READING CONTAMINATION - CLICK HERE

The Reading site in particular is of importance because the contamination is of a similar nature to the Heol y Glyn site. The contamination at Heol y Glyn is not necessarily a modern one because the contamination at Reading was identified as most likely being from the tipping of domestic ash. If we refer back to the historical usage of the site we will see that it was known as the 'ash tip' and was at one time the local council tip. With coal fires being the predominant method of heating (and possibly cooking in some cases) in a coal mining area, it is probable that the majority of landfill at the site was domestic ash. The Reading document states that:

[the contamination] is considered more likely to be related to historical use of the site as allotments or possibly the previous use of the land as open ground at the rear of houses that may have been used for domestic ash disposal." - 20200609R-DO-reading-contam-bap

If we look again at the "Neath-Port Talbot Council's 2005 Contaminated Land Strategy" which was the document the planning department should have referred to for guidance on contamination, what should have happened is that the Planning Department should have passed the contamination information on to Contaminated Land Team (CLT), the CLT who should have then either informed the Environment Agency or worked with the Planning Department to formulate a remediation strategy. This is what the document says..........

"When considering development proposals, the planning authorities role is to ensure that all material planning considerations, which can include the actual or possible presence of contamination are satisfactorily addressed. When considering an application, where contaminated land is invloved (document spelling mistake not ours) the planning authority will identify specific measures to be undertaken prior to redevelopment, these requirements will be imposed by a set of conditions attached to the planning permission. The main objective of the conditions is to ensure suitable investigation work is carried out and that the land is remediated to a standard that is suitable for the proposed end use." 

Page 36 of this document which covers the planning process states that sites that may be contaminated should be identified at the earliest stage of the planning process and then throughout the development stage and that there should be "close liaison between the Contaminated Land Officer and the planning officer". (There is no evidence of any liaison between these two departments and the Neath Port Talbot Council refuse to provide evidence of any liaison or of any actions relating to the contamination identified in the report.)

The overall aim of the Contaminated Land Strategy in 2008 was............

"........to identify, remove and prevent significant harm occurring from contaminated land to people, property, animals and the environment"  (page 15)

The Geo-technical and Geo-environmental report submitted by the Cuddy Group Agent on 26 November 2008 included a pollutant linkage (source ---> pathway --->  receptor) from the site to the neighbouring residents. This would indicate either a Category 1 (probable significant harm) or Category 2 (possible significant harm) contamination which would require further testing and a remediation strategy. 

It should be noted that the maximum depth to which the contaminated land was tested was only 1.4 metres. The historic tipped material at the site in some places goes down to 20 metres at a conservative estimate. It is therefore highly likely that a far higher level of contaminants could be found at the lower levels of the site.  

The fact that the report included a remediation strategy and validation report is clear evidence the surveyors considered the level of contamination to be either Category 1 or Category 2.

Figure 2.1, the illustration below......

54.jpg (177403 bytes)

.......... is from the Environment Agency publication "Using Science to create a better place - Updated technical background to the CLEA model" it shows the potential exposure pathways for the migration of contamination from soil to human. The figure on the right showing a man working in the garden is particularly relevant to the Heol y Glyn site, dust and vapours were regularly blown towards the houses of neighbouring residents while the bottom illustration below.......... 

68.jpg (649826 bytes)

................ shows the direction of groundwater which flowed downhill to Brynhyfryd and Woodland Park and is probably still contaminating home grown produce. 

This is the system by which the Neath Port Talbot Council should have judged the level of contamination. 

87.jpg (589942 bytes)

That a pollutant linkage from the source at the Heol y Glyn site to the receptors, neighbouring residents (Brynhyfryd, Woodland Park, Heol y Glyn, Waun Gron and the Inter Valley Road) was identified, places the contamination as either Category 1 (probable significant harm) or Category 2 (possible significant harm). The inclusion of this information in the Geo-technical and Geo-environmental report provides evidence that the land should have been remediated or at least further testing should have taken place.

THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT THE NEATH PORT TALBOT COUNCIL FOLLOWED ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS

 

 

What did happen?

What happened is that the Neath Port Talbot Council Planning Department worked together with the Cuddy Group to hide the contaminated land and this is how they did it

    In 2010, a new agent Asbri Planning submitted a new set of plans on behalf of the Cuddy Group, these included a variation of condition 17. The plans previously submitted in 2008 provided evidence that historically there was no tip or industrial activity at the site, the 2008 application said the land had previously been open fields. The 2010 planning application submitted by the Cuddy Group however identified the site as 'brownfield'. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE APPLICATION DOCUMENT

We can find no evidence of the NPTC Planning Department referencing the land as 'brownfield' in any document, their definition of the land can be found in the Local Development Plan where it is described as 'gently sloping.

  86.jpg (499923 bytes) Full conditions for the 2010 approval are included on this link CLICK HERE. If there was remediation to be done at the site in line with the Contaminated Land Strategy then it would be included as one of the conditions here. There is no mention of contaminated land or remediation in the conditions.

The Neath Port Talbot Council Planning Department have hidden the fact that the land has been tested as contaminated by allowing the Cuddy Group to re-define the land as 'brownfield'. Changes to condition 17 allow for a new Geotechnical survey which was eventually submitted in 2016 without chemical testing by a different company. This also suggests that they wanted the contamination hidden. The changes to condition 17, allowing Cuddy to re-define the land as brownfield and the allowance of a new Geotechnical survey provide evidence that the NPTC Planning Department were working together with the Cuddy Group to hide the contamination in order to bypass the remediation process.

These documents provide evidence that the Neath Port Talbot Council Planning Department has covered up the contaminated land therefore they have broken the............

Environmental Protection Act 1990 - Part IIA

I would suggest this is clearly an act of Misconduct in Public Office by those responsible.

 

Are the Neath Port Talbot Council Planning Department still hiding the contaminated land?

Yes, in March 2020 we set about trying to understand the planning process and what happened once the land was found as contaminated. Immediately the council avoided answering questions about the contamination and then they refuse to deal with us. We have found that misconduct (a criminal offence) is standard practice amongst the employees of the Neath Port Talbot Council, this includes everyone we have dealt with at the planning department, the council leader Rob Jones and two heads of services, Craig Griffiths, and Nicola Pearce. 

Below is a summary of our actions and thoughts relating to the various council employees and departments together with links containing further information.     

WE ARE WORKING ON THIS SECTION AND WILL UPLOAD INFORMATION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE - IF THERE IS SOMETHING IN PARTICULAR YOU WOULD LIKE US TO HIGHLIGHT / EXPLAIN / UPLOAD THEN PLEASE CONTACT US BY EMAIL dairichardswales@gmail.com

 

 

COUNCIL EMPLOYEE ACTIONS RELATING TO THE IDENTIFIED CONTAMINATED LAND

 

Our aim is:  "To identify, remove and prevent significant harm occurring from contaminated land to people, property, animals and the environment"  

(Neath Port Talbot Council - Environment Strategy 2008)
 
When the land was found to be contaminated in 2008 nothing seems to have been done about it. According to the Neath Port Talbot Council's Environment Strategy the council have a duty to inspect this land so we requested confirmation of this from our local County Councillor Del Morgan and the Planning Department at NPTC. The following are a series of actions which we have undertaken to verify this information. 

5/4/2020

 

32-contamination-marked.jpg (377419 bytes)

20200405a-EM-RICD-NPTC-enzo14 - We started off by sending an email (from Dai Richards) to Steve Ball & Councillor Del Morgan referencing Councillor Morgans's facebook post about how he was to going to make sure that planning checked for contamination etc at the site. The purpose of this email was to identify the actions that the councillor and the planning department had taken in 2008 when the site was previously identified as contaminated. Evidence in the form of an extract from the 2008 report was attached to the email.

The email was copied to Nicola Lake (planning), Haulwen Jones (Glynneath Town Council), Christina Rees MP, and the NPTC Leader Rob Jones.  - CLICK HERE TO SEE THIS EMAIL 

 

9/4/2020  

20200409a-EM-NPTC-RICD-enzo16 - This was the early part of our research into the contamination at the site and we hadn't realised the plans had been withdrawn and the contamination report then hidden and not acted upon as required by law. 

We received an email from Steve Ball (to Dai Richards) in reply to the email dated 5/4/2020 (CLICK HERE). The planning officer has avoided answering relevant questions and has refused to answer any further emails. - CLICK HERE TO SEE THIS EMAIL  The following extract from his email relates to our request for information about the regulations for building on landfill sites and our question about what happened following the land being identified as contaminated in 2008.

"In your email of 5th April you state that “the land is shown as contaminated and a danger to local residents” and have also requested “... if NPTC has to follow guidelines, protocols or regulations relating to the building of houses on landfill or brownfield sites?”. You also refer to the 2008 ground investigation which concluded that there was evidence of contamination. 

In response, I would wish to emphasise that the presence of contamination on sites is incredibly common on land within Neath Port Talbot, and this matter is routinely addressed in consultation with our specialists on land contamination matters, as well as in responses from Natural Resources Wales (NRW). In this respect it is important to understand that the presence of contamination does not make land “a danger to residents”.

Although I am yet to receive a response to the current application from our specialists, at this stage, and in light of the extant planning permission for development at the site, I see no reason why matters of land contamination cannot be addressed in the usual manner through imposition of conditions.


In terms of your specific question relating to ‘guidelines, protocols or regulations relating to the building of houses on landfill or brownfield sites’, I would draw your attention to Welsh Government guidance in Planning Policy Wales 10 (pages 37 and 38). In essence these encourage developments on such land, though it does note if land is “highly contaminated” (3.51) it may not be suitable for development.

Our land contamination colleagues also have specific technical guidance they follow when considering the need to remediate and verify works on contaminated land. For example Welsh Government guidance refers to: BS10175 (2011) Investigation of Potentially Contaminated Sites Code of Practice; and the Welsh Local Government Association and the Environment Agency Wales ‘Development of Land Affected by Contamination: A Guide for Developers’ (2012).

Finally, while I have responded in detail to the above, I wish to emphasise my earlier advice that we will no longer respond to your requests for information or respond to your questions."

If we look at Steve Ball's answer to our question which was:

"Can [the planning department] provide evidence of how you worked together [with County Councillor Del Morgan] to ensure the removal of the land identified as contaminated in 2008."

We will see he uses a form of deception known as RAB

Reference: Firstly he references the question so you know that follows is his answer

Avoid: Secondly he avoids giving a relevant answer either through providing irrelevant information as he has done in this case or fabricating information. If we look at his answer, we will see that he immediately talks about the present time, about how land is contaminated. He then provides information about how the planning department will provide conditions for the contamination. Basically he is telling us exactly what he will be doing and what should have been done in 2008, but wasnt. He then fleshes out his answer with Welsh Government Guidelines dated 2011 and 2012. He has completely avoided the question about what happened in 2008 and failed to provide any evidence.

Block: He has refused to answer any further questions.

19/4/2020  

20200419a-EM-RICD-NPTC-CLEA-contam2008 - Further to the planning officers refusal to answer questions we sent an email to the Council Leader advising his that the council had probably contravened the Environment Protection Act 1990. We provided evidence of Steve Ball's decption to highlight the reason why we were writing to the Council Leader. We provided him evidence that the land was tested as contaminated and had been highlighted as a danger to neighbouring residents. We asked him the following questions:

"• What (if any) procedures were in place for the planning department to report contaminated land to the appropriate department or relevant authorities in 2008? 

• We would also request any evidence to suggest that these guidelines were followed or any evidence that the contamination was dealt with and/or investigated if at all? 

• If no evidence can be provided we would like the council's response as to what can be done to remediate this? 

• What steps will now be taken to properly investigate and record the contamination? 

• Finally what steps the council will now take to address the contamination at this land?

We would also welcome an answer to the previously unanswered question directed to Councillor Del Morgan and the Planning Department:

• "… please can you both provide evidence of how you worked together to ensure the removal of the land identified as contaminated in 2008 from the same area?"
  - CLICK HERE TO SEE THIS EMAIL "

 

20/4/2020  

20200420a-EM-NPTC-CLEA-RICD-contam2008 - In his reply the Council Leader completely avoided our request for information about the contamination and treated our email as a complaint against Steve Ball, He passed our email on to the planning department who are the root cause of the complaint. CLICK HERE . The subsequent refusal by the council leader to investigate our concerns about the contamination and the actions of his council subordinates would suggest this initial action of passing on the email to the Head of Planning and Public Protection is an act of Misconduct. 

28/4/2020  

20200428a-EM-RICD-NPTC-complaint-no - We emailed the council leader with our refusal to complain about Steve Ball. - CLICK HERE

4/5/2020  

20200504a-EM-NPTC-RICD-contam2008 - The head of planning entered my request for information as a Stage 2 complaint and refused to reply to any more emails which passed on any further response by myself to the Ombudsman. - CLICK HERE

The Head of Planning and Public Protection, Ceri Morris found that "Mr Ball has undertaken his duties to date in a highly professional manner" and referencing the question of contamination at the site the Head of Planning clearly fabricated the council's duties with regard to contaminated land

paragraph 1 "Turning specifically to the issue of land contamination at the site and whether the Council has historically contravened the Environmental Protection Act 1990, I would advise that this legislation no longer applies when a site is going through the planning
process; by definition therefore the Council has not at any point contravened its duties under this legislation, as it is not relevant once the planning process has commenced.

paragraph 2 "What is relevant however, is that through the planning process, the Council is required to address land contamination to ensure sites are safe and suitable for use after development has been completed. Mr Ball has already quite rightly drawn your attention to the fact that these matters are routinely addressed throughout the process in consultation with the Council’s specialist officers on land contamination matters, as well as in responses from Natural Resources Wales (NRW)."

paragraph 3 "I note that the Geo-Technical and Geo-Environmental Report to which you refer, which supported planning application P2008/1462, did find low levels of contamination and concluded that clean cover should be provided in residential gardens which would mitigate all risk posed by any contamination present at the site."

Turning to paragraph 1 of the above statement, if we refer to the council's duties under the Environmental Acct 1990 Part IIA as outlined in the Contaminated Land Strategy 2005......

"In July 2001, Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 came into force, introducing a new regime for the regulation of contaminated land in Wales. The main purpose of Part IIA is to provide a legal structure for the identification of land posing unacceptable risks to human health or the environment, and for securing remediation of such land."

...... we will see that the council's duties are two fold, 

1. the identification of land posing unacceptable risks to human health 

2. the securing of remediation.

The first part of the council's obligations were completed, contaminated land was identified and the report provided a "significant pollutant linkage" (source, pathway, receptor). (see page 4 of the Contaminated Land Strategy 2005). The securing of the remediation was not. The report containing the contamination was withdrawn and a new one allowed by the planning department without chemical testing. The next set of conditions failed to include remediation. If we refer to the planning department's responsibilities as defined in the Contaminated Land Strategy 2005.

One of the 6 Key Objectives of the strategy is:

"To ensure that during the redevelopment of new sites, land contamination issues are dealt with effectively and at an early stage of the planning process."

and the planning department's responsibilities are:

"When considering development proposals, the planning authorities role is to ensure that all material planning considerations, which can include the actual or possible presence of contamination are satisfactorily addressed. When considering an application, where contaminated land is invloved (document spelling mistake not ours) the planning authority will identify specific measures to be undertaken prior to redevelopment, these requirements will be imposed by a set of conditions attached to the planning permission. The main objective of the conditions is to ensure suitable investigation work is carried out and that the land is remediated to a standard that is suitable for the proposed end use." 

Paragraph 2 of the above statement quotes what the council should have done not what they did. NRW did not become involved in the site until 2014.

Paragraph 3 is a deliberate fabrication of information and interpretation of relevant information. If we refer to the term 'low contamination' there is no such terminology in the 

 

 

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