‘Contaminated’ Willenhall land not a threat, council says

Residents who were told years ago their houses were built on “contaminated” land have been informed that there is no threat to their health.

People on Willenhall’s Stonegate estate were advised by Walsall Council the ground had been polluted by a former gasworks.

They were told not to eat garden produce and one said he had struggled to sell his home.

New tests have found toxicity levels are well below what is harmful.

One resident is “seething” over the news.

“We can’t sell the house, but now we’ve received a letter to say there’s nothing wrong,” he said.

“I’m seething […] I want to throttle somebody.”

Another resident said: “It’s been worrying for everyone.

“There’s people who wanted to move who couldn’t.

“We are happy now [..]. It’s a relief for me.”

West Midlands Live

The estate was built in the 1970s on the former Willenhall Gasworks site and fears over its contamination emerged in 2007. The land was formally deemed contaminated by Walsall Council in 2012.

But doubts over the pollution emerged in 2015 and an inquiry ruled in 2017 that the council did not establish the land met the requirements of contamination under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Company Land Quality Management LTD was then brought to test soil, water and gas samples. It concluded that it is not contaminated.

Mike Bird, leader of the Conservative run council, said the level of toxins found were too low to pose a significant risk adding that residents may have “mixed emotions” over the news.

A proposal to take the estate off the contaminated land list is to be put to the council’s Cabinet on 23 January. A residents meeting is also planned.

Labour leader Sean Coughlan said he has “every sympathy” for residents.