Residents voice fears over Sandford Farm waste
August 20, 2012
Campaigners are concerned works to clear landfill from Sandford Farm have been halted after more waste was discovered than expected.
But developers Taylor Wimpey insist the work has dried up because initial works have been completed.
Members of Loddon Valley Action Group (LVAG) raised concerns after rumours began circulating that contractor Churngold had withdrawn from the contract to clean up the site because there was more waste to clear than first believed.
Woodley Town councillor Phil Challis, chair of LVAG, said: “The developer denies local rumours that Churngold have withdrawn because they have discovered the waste is either worse or a greater volume than they were led to believe by evidence provided to them.
“If the rumours are true it would be worrying as LVAG has warned all along that there were problems with the developers’ description of the contents, but the planning inspector ignored us.”
Taylor Wimpey is building 468 homes, a shop, a country park and a care home on the former landfill and quarry site in Sandford Lane.
But before homes can be built, remediation work to remove the landfill – which is believed to include medical and clinical waste – must be completed.
A Taylor Wimpey spokesman said: “A contractor has carried out initial preparatory works at the Sandford Farm site.
“Further works are required which have been identified and Taylor Wimpey will appoint a contractor to ensure that these are safely carried out.
“In the meantime, an inspection of the site has been carried out by the Environment Agency and other statutory bodies, who have confirmed they are satisfied with its current condition.”
Members of the community action group had been pleased with the original remediation contractor which impressed many people with its professionalism and willingness to talk with residents.
Sylvia Caston, secretary of LVAG, said: “I hope that any new contractor shows the same willingness to work with us and neighbours of the site.”
Cllr Challis added: “All of the environmental licences and site licences are held by Churngold and we are pressing Wokingham Borough Council and Environmental Agency to remain vigilant as they are responsible for protecting residents.
“If there are any doubts about the evidence provided by the developers when they won planning permission on appeal or in subsequent applications then residents demand that the appropriate authorities withdraw permission and operating licences.”
A High Court ruling last month said Russian multi-millionaire Pavel Lisitsin was defrauded of a £2m investment in the deal to buy Sandford Farm seven years ago.
The Russian businessman backed a scheme on the understanding he would provide £2m as equity to help buy the land for £12.3m.
However members of Wharf Land Investments used his money to buy the land for £9.3m before selling it on to him for a higher price.
The ruling stated the company had acted “dishonestly” and was “knowingly complicit in fraudulent misrepresentation”.