Updated: 01/04/21 @20:27
Land at the Former Officers Mess, Elvington Lane, Aerodrome Road Hawkinge purchased by Pentland Homes on 01/12/2020 for £2.5 million, according to land registry documents, contains levels of arsenic which are lethal, according to robust evidence from the Environment Agency.
How the arsenic came to be on the site is not known, as it is not documented
The site was acquired by Pentland Homes, owned by Peter Nettlam Tory and James Nettlam Tory, and the company wish to build 76 homes on
There is currently a reserved matters application – 21/0517/FH which has been adverstised in the local paper, on the council’s website and on trees around the site. Residents can comment via the council planning portal.
In a Geo-Environmental Report prepared by Enzygo Environmental Consultants, for and on behalf of Dean Lewis Estates Limited, in May 2018, for the former Officers mess site in Hawkinge, states at Paragraph 9.5, page 25:
Elevated concentrations of arsenic (up to 110mg/kg) and lead (up to 1900mg/kg) were measured in samples of made ground and ‘Made Ground/Topsoil’
In May 2008 the Environment Agency released the follow report – A review of the toxicity of arsenic in air Science Report – SC020104-SR4 which states at page 3:
In the atmosphere, arsenic exists as particulate matter, mostly less than 2 µm in diameter. These particles are transported by air currents until they return to the ground via wet or dry deposition, where a certain amount of resuspension may occur (European Commission, 2000).
At page 6 it states:
Acute lethal doses for oral exposure in humans estimated from poisoning incidents range from 70-190 mg arsenic.
At page 13 it states:
Arsenic has been classified as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (Group 1)
As such, the levels present on the site are lethal, according to the Environmental Agency report [the latest available].
It’s clear that arsenic dust is incredibly small in size and will travel a good distance on the breeze/wind. As the image above shows trenches have been dug and arsenic dust exposed to the atmosphere [not by Pentland Homes we add]. As such neighbours of the site and those living further afield in Hawkinge may have been exposed to lethal levels of arsenic already.
In an email regarding archaeological information dated the 14 Jan 2021 the applicants archaeology experts says to KCC’s archaeology expert the following:
I have now had this reviewed by our Health & Safety t [HS] Team and the view is as the elevated levels of arsenic extend into the geological levels the HS risks are too great for hand digging both for staff, cross contamination and dust risks.
We could monitor during the remediation – but this would be observe and record – suited, booted and masked. Let me know if this approach is ok or whether we just draw a line under this one.
Duncan Hawkins BA (Hons), MSc, r-sA, rtClfA Operational Director, Head of Archaeology & Heritage RPS I Consulting UK & Ireland.
KCC Archaeology expert responds by saying:
I think that the health risks are probably too great compared to the likely significance/quality of any below-ground archaeological remains and I think that it would be prudent, particularly in the present circumstances, not to undertake any archaeological fieldwork at this site.
Casper Johnson MClf A FSA Senior Archaeological Officer I Environment~ Planning and Enforcement I Kent County Council I lnvicta House, Maidstone, ME141XQ
So both of them believe that the arsenic is a significant Health & Safety risk/issue preventing any archaeology from taking place on the site.
76 Homes are to be built on this site by Pentland Homes. Geo Environmental Report makes clear land has 110mg/Kg of arsenic. Environment agency say 70mg/Kg plus is lethal.
Now of course the 76 homes will have gardens and in the top soil will be arsenic and this will have to be remediated/removed somehow. This will have to be done as kids playing or adults growing veg could possibly ingest lethal quantities of arsenic. So it’s not just dust which is an issue.
So two qualified opinions believe the sites arsenic levels present a clear and demonstrable health & safety risk, plus the EA’s report makes it known levels on the site are “LETHAL“.
So we believe the land is contaminated as per s78A of Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
We believe that arsenic levels at 110mg are LETHAL – as the EA say anything above 70mg/Kg is lethal.
This clears the bar of “significant harm to human health” and to residents around the site and beyond.
It’s clear it’s a risk that cannot be sensibly ignored having regard to the nature and gravity of the feared harm in this particular case.
So it is left to our Council, yes – Folkestone & Hythe District Council to decide if the land is contaminated. It is they who must determine if the land and the arsenic within presents a “significant harm to human health” as per the Department For Environment, Food & Rural Affairs – Contaminated Land Statutory Guidance
At page 18 it states:
The term “possibility of significant harm” as it applies to human health, for the purposes of this guidance, means the risk posed by one or more relevant contaminant linkage(s) relating to the land. It comprises:
(a) The estimated likelihood that significant harm might occur to an identified receptor, taking account of the current use of the land in question.
(b) The estimated impact if the significant harm did occur i.e. the nature of the harm, the seriousness of the harm to any person who might suffer it, and (where relevant) the extent of the harm in terms of how many people might suffer it.
In estimating the likelihood that a specific form of significant harm might occur the local authority should, among other things, consider:
(a) The estimated probability that the significant harm might occur:
(i) if the land continues to be used as it is currently being used; and
(ii) where relevant, if the land were to be used in a different way (or ways) in the future having regard to the guidance on “current use” in Section 3.
(b) The strength of evidence underlying the risk estimate. It should also consider the key assumptions on which the estimate of likelihood is based, and the level of uncertainty underlying the estimate.
At page 20 it states:
the authority is aware that similar degrees of exposure (via any medium) to the contaminant(s) in question are known, or strongly suspected on the basis of robust evidence, to have caused such harm before in the United Kingdom or elsewhere;
Well there exists the Environment Agency report A review of the toxicity of arsenic in air Science Report published in May 2008 this is very robust evidence that above 70mg/Kg in the air is LETHAL. That is more than significant harm.
Furthermore, s34 of the Clean Air Act 1993 allows our Council to work with the developer – Pentland Homes to undertake research and investigations into “air pollution” which is what arsenic would be if they dig up the ground for foundations, laying pipes on the site etc.
The Cabinet Member responsible for air quality is Cllr Lesley Whybrow. And the Cabinet Member responsible for Contaminated Land is Cllr John Collier
Finally it is worth noting the owners of the site, Pentland Homes Ltd, owned by Peter Nettlam Tory and his son James Nettlam Tory; one has donated to the local Conservative Party between 2001 and 2007, and the other is a non-dom for tax purposes, who mainly resides on “the most notorious tax haven on earth” – the Cayman Islands.
Peter Nettlam Tory has donated £5,500 pounds to the Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association between 2001 and 2007.
We understand James obtained his Cayman Island residency in 2013, making it clear his personal wealth was approx £17 million at the time. All this by the age of 40, just when life begins.
Neither donating to the local Conservatives, or having residency on the “the most notorious tax haven on earth” is illegal. These acts are NOT unlawful. Peter & James and their company are well known by our Council, as they and Pentland have built many homes in and around Hawkinge over the years. And again that’s not unlawful.
For a site this size and the number of proposed homes a profit in excess of £5 million can easily be expected.
We believe this site should be called in to the planning committee – contact details of cllrs who sit on it can be found ⇒ here. Also Cllr Lesley Whybrow should ask that any development be temporarily halted while research/investigations are undertaken into the air quality contamination, which will happen when the soil is disturbed, then report back to the planning committee with facts, on which they can make any future decision.
Pentland Homes have been contacted for comment, and they’ve now responded with the following to our public face:
We have engaged a remediation consultant to advise on the appropriate remediation methods that will be required to develop the site for new homes. Once this report is completed we will be required under the existing planning permission to submit to Folkestone and Hythe our proposals for appropriate scrutiny and approval.
There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in this blog post have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly, unless found so by a court of law.
The Shepway Vox Team
Being Voxatious is NOT a Crime