Campaigners call for expert intervention at 'mismanaged' Lench Meadows project in Stratford - The Leamington Observer

Campaigners call for expert intervention at 'mismanaged' Lench Meadows project in Stratford

Leamington Editorial 20th Apr, 2023   0

CAMPAIGNERS claim the project to rejuvenate Lench Meadows in Stratford continues to pose a public safety hazard and are calling for environmental experts to intervene.

The £2million Riverside Project, which involves the development of Lench Meadows and the adjacent Fisherman’s car park, was given the go-ahead by Stratford District Council in November 2021.

The joint project by SDC and Stratford Town Trust involves rejuvenating the area to attract more visitors as well as providing a local nature reserve for existing wildlife.

The plans include the creation of extra paths and cycleways, and new bridges to provide better access for people in wheelchairs.

The biodiversity of the land, between the River Avon and the Warwick Road, will be managed after being neglected for decades.

Many councillors spoke out in favour of the plans at the time but there were also more than 100 objections due to concerns the project would disturb a council tip on part of the site.

The tip was in operation between 1950 and 1971 and according to reports contained hazardous materials such as broken glass and batteries. Critics said there was no record of exactly what was buried there by local manufacturers and not enough testing had taken place.

Council reports of the time stated there was no risk of potential contamination of the land.

But campaigners against the project say as they feared, the tip has been disturbed since work began on site and there is evidence of broken glass, domestic and medical waste and asbestos.

Town councilllor Roger Harding met campaigners at the site and said as a result he is lending them his backing.

He told the Observer: “I have to say, they have a point. The whole project has been badly mismanaged in my opinion. Councillors took their eye off the ball.

“The site is an old council tip from the 1950s and 1960s. There was little or no control over what was dumped there in those days – so close to the river. Concerns had been expressed by older residents that all kinds of toxic waste including asbestos had been dumped there – and, indeed, a consultant’s report has confirmed this.

“Yet large areas of the topsoil cap were scraped off the surface during the recent works, leaving sizeable areas littered with broken glass, domestic and medical waste and even chunks of asbestos. One area has remained fenced off, presumably to mitigate health risks. Rabbits and badgers are still digging into the area and bringing more waste to the surface daily.

Coun Harding added: “The project may have been started with good intentions, but it seems to me it could have been handled better. I think we need to look at getting an independent environmental report to look at the options now open to us. We simply cannot leave this public area in the state it’s in.”

Stratford District Council has been approached for comment.


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