Anyone who wis or has been a local councillor knows the problem. Mine, may years ago, involved allotment gardens which had been “enhanced” with slurry from the local stage works. The result was vegetables high in toxic heavy metals. Adjacent was a scrap-yard which, some how, in days of yore, had gained planning permission — moreover, planning permission with very little in the way of conditions.
Righting these wrongs involves one commodity: money, and shedloads of it. That is precisely the commodity of which local government is chronically lacking.
So I am acutely aware of the griefs felt by all, residents and officialdom, at Moor Street, Brierly Hill:
Six years of to-and-fro-ing, and one of the sites’s owners, Robert McNaughton, ordered six months in the chokey: only by awarding planning permission for 90-odd flats has the thing come closer to reconciliation.
McNaughton, by the way, didn’t offend Mr Justice MacDuff by causing a gross public nuisance. His succession of wilful delays and obstructions finally were deemed contempt of court. Not quite on the level of doing Al Capone for tax evasion, but still a nice try. As McNaughton and his moll remain beneficial owners of the site, they may yet clean up.
Anything the West Midlands can do, South Yorkshire can do bigger and more noxious. It’s at Great Heck, near Selby:
This one burns, stinks, pollutes and probably can be viewed from low orbit.
Again we find an uncooperative owner, who conveniently went bust last summer.
What is different here is the lack of a substantial local authority, properly resourced. Briefly Hill is in Dudley Metropolitan Borough: Great Heck is in Selby District. The population and revenue base vary by a factor of eight or ten. The Great Heack site is sandwiched between concrete plants, a motorway, and a railway line — industrial land less desirable for profitable development.
This time the financial burden has to fall on the Environment Agency, which means the general taxpayer (or more specifically by a virement from other essential schemes).
Capitalism is a dirty business.
Oh, and by the way, that anecdotage which started this post has another sting in the tail.
Government and hope-builders cast eyes on the Thames-side marshes. The 1974 Tower Bridge to Tilbury survey for the GLC might merit being dug out of the archives. It mentions how the marshes have been used for all sorts of tipping. Not excluding low-level radio-active waste.