‘Ridiculous’ asbestos site plans by school scrapped after outcry

An application to build an asbestos storage facility near Usworth Colliery Primary School in Washington has caused an outcry.

Plans for an asbestos waste site in the city have been scrapped after a community outcry.

Angry residents slammed “ridiculous” plans to build an asbestos storage site just yards from two primary schools and a nursery.

Scores of people complained about the proposals by South Tyneside asbestos specialists, Nichol Associates, to create the facility where open land stands in Gayton Road, in the Sulgrave area of Washington.

The site is close to Usworth Colliery Primary School and its nursery, Usworth Grange Primary School and residential areas, and people were concerned for the health of children.

Although the Hebburn-based company has stressed the site would cause no harm, they have decided to withdraw the application and look for an alternative site.

Steve Cuthbert, one of the campaigners against the idea, said: “We are absolutely delighted. It is a very, very good result that it has been withdrawn for now, but we will be watching carefully.

“We all got together quickly as soon as we heard of the plans and it wasn’t very difficult to get a lot of people behind us.”

Washington people have been left with a grim legacy from a history of working and living with asbestos, costing many people their lives or health.

David Nichol, managing director of Nichol Associates, said: “I would like to reassure the general public and parents that there was never at any point any health and safety risk to schoolchildren or indeed anyone.

“We conducted all the appropriate risk assessments and there would be no contamination. The container would be securely locked, contamination proof, and only accessible by fully-trained, approved employees of Nichol Associates.

“Understanding the sensitivities and wanting a chance to put across our side of the story, I have taken the step of withdrawing our planning application with Sunderland council for now, whilst we consider potential alternative sites.

“I would stress that again that this in no way indicates any health risk whatsoever.”

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