In March 2023 we had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the council to discuss the situation around the tar barrels in Nightingale Valley. Two people from the land contamination department came along and two from the Parks department. I am happy to report that wheels seem to be turning. Progress is limited so far but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

It looks like the barrels have been there far longer than we first suspected. There is photographic evidence from the 1930, as shown above. The picture on the left is taken from Google Earth, the one on the right is an aerial shot from the 1930s.  It isn’t easy to make out but you can see a bulldozer and some barrels which seem to have been tipped there.

There is some suggestion that the waste could have come from The Colthurst & Harding  Paint Works site on The Bath Road. When the paint works was closed down there was a lot of waste on site which needed to be disposed of and a cheap way to do that was to dump it illegally, but evidence here is a bit sketchy.

A big obstacle to taking action is that it is not clear who actually owns the land that the barrels sit on. The council have traced ownership as far as 1990 where the person who owned it died. The process of finding out who currently owns it now is not as straightforward as you might think but the council are taking legal advice on this. We hope for some more information in the coming weeks.

Although the land is clearly contaminated, under the current legislation, it isn’t likely that The Council can force clean-up on the basis of “environmental contamination.” That being said, there is clearly a safety issue and action can be taken with regards to making things safer.

For the moment The Council have agreed to improve the signage around the contaminated area with clearer warnings as to what is there.

There is also a lot of broken glass in the area just by the bridge. We are planning to do a specialised work party later on this year to try and remove as much of this broken glass as possible. Watch this space for announcements. 

read our notes on the historic pollution

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