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Axe finally falls on Bassetsbury Lane Allotments
THE axe has finally fallen on Bassetsbury Lane Allotments after a final soil assessment revealed every plot posed a potential risk to tenants.
Disappointed members of the High Wycombe Town Committee agreed to close the gates to the beleaguered site once and for all last night.
A final Detailed Quantitative Risk Assessment, which cost £19,750, concluded the site was not suitable for use as allotments after it discovered Vanadium, Cadmium and Benzo(a)pyrene in the soil.
Cllr Trevor Snaith, who spearheaded the fight to protect the site, said: “We have done the right thing [by agreeing to the investigation].
“We have gone the extra mile for the people of this town and I applaud everything we have done. I am uncomfortable with the situation but comfortable with the decision.
“It has been a long battle, we thought there would be light at the end of the tunnel but there isn’t and it’s with a heavy heart I agree with the decision.”
The committee’s ruling will have to be ratified by Wycombe District Council’s Cabinet - but that appears to be a formality.
The saga has been rumbling since the site was initially closed in February 2009, after a soil test revealed traces of copper, nickel and lead.
The Bassetsbury Lane Allotments Group sprung into action and commissioned its own review of the initial soil tests which concluded the level of contamination was not significant enough to warrant closure.
Further tests were carried out between late 2009 and 2011 and WDC looked at partially reopening the allotments at one stage - but it was unable to obtain insurance, to the frustration of tenants.
WDC's Head of Community Elaine Jewell said tenants would be put to the front of the queue for a plot at another site.
She added the council had contacted Health England to enable the authority to give a detailed response to tenants about potential health risks and confirmed WDC’s “insurance is good”.
WDC’s Cabinet member for Community Cllr John Gibbs said: “It’s not reasonable to expose people to those kinds of conditions.
“The council has engaged for four and a half years now, it’s a long time. That is it, sadly, but people’s health and safety must come first.”
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