Reassurances on asbestos claims

Coun Bob Brierley has called it into question
Coun Bob Brierley has called it into question
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Health and safety chiefs are investigating after an opposition councillor raised the alarm about survey work on an asbestos site.

Coun Bob Brierley for Hindley Green ward alerted the authorities after a contractor for Peel Holdings attempted to access part of the South of Hindley site from Thomas Street.

Coun Brierley is claiming the JCB was going to dry dig on the land instead of using water and is concerned other health and safety regulations were potentially being breached.

Wigan Council said when the work was announced earlier this year there would be no risk to the public from the ground investigations.

However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has confirmed that following Coun Brierley getting in touch it is looking into the incident on July 12.

A spokesman said: “HSE has received Councillor Brierley’s concern and our enquiries are under way. We cannot comment further at this time.”

Coun Brierley contacted the HSE to say he intercepted the digger as it was about to cross a football field to get onto the South of Hindley development area, which partly includes the site of the old Turner and Newall factory and land nearby.

In his complaint to the HSE Coun Brierley alleges the digger was about to dry dig the site.

He wrote: “Under the document of Government guidelines this was illegal and I’ve been advised to report the incident as a serious concern, by not using the correct equipment could have caused serious damage to people’s health. Hopefully you can treat this complaint as very serious.”

Peel Holdings was approached by the Wigan Post but declined to comment.

Coun Brierley also claimed residents in the area were not informed that work was going to begin and the authorities should have let the Hindley Green ward councillors know.

However, Wigan Council said it informed residents at the end of June about the investigation work which would take place on the former industrial land.

Developers had also said there was no danger to residents.

Concerns about asbestos on the site were raised during a public consultation last year and the town hall said the work would ensure any contaminating material was identified and dealt with before a planning application is submitted.

Karl Battersby, Wigan Council’s director for economy and environment, said at the time: “On sites which have previously been used for industry there is usually a need to confirm that the ground is free from significant contamination.

“Appropriate remediation work will be undertaken before any development takes place so that the environment and future residents will be safe.

Phil Rothwell, planning director at Peel Holdings (Land and Property), had added: “The investigation will involve trial excavations around the site and a limited number of boreholes.

“Work will be carried out by specialist contractors, and there is no risk to the wider public from the investigations.”

The proposals could eventually see up to 2,000 homes and business facilities built on the 112-hectare brownfield site.