Anti-asphalt plant campaigners respond to reassurances over asbestos find (updated)

Campaigners believe specialist report which found asbestos at the site would not have been carried out had it not been for pressure from WRAP.


Further to the findings of a specialist report revealing that asbestos has been found on the site of the proposed asphalt plant, we got in touch with the anti-asphalt plant campaign group, Wight Residents Against Asphalt Plant (WRAP) for their view on the report and how it came about.

Julia Hill from WRAP says, “I believe it was as a result of pressure from WRAP. You will notice that the report even refers to concerns of residents surrounding the position of boreholes and goes on to (badly) explain their rationale. They (Eurovia) originally stated they hadn’t found asbestos until it transpired they hadn’t even tested for it.

“Much of the historical data in the report was originally presented to the IWC by WRAP members.”

Council failures
Julia went on the say, “I also note that when guided to the site initially, the IWC failed to provide the company with sufficient data on the background of the site.

“Data which it transpired was freely available from the County records office.”

Health and safety foremost?
In response to the reassurances being offered by Eurovia after the findings, Julia said, “I note David Bindings latest ‘reassurances’ yet if their previous track record of gross negligence in France is anything to go by they have hardly demonstrated themselves as a company that put health and safety foremost.”

OnTheWight have contacted Eurovia to ask how the report came into being and are awaiting a response, which we will add here once received.

Update: 15th April
David Binding, Eurovia Commercial Director, said: “We commissioned our own site investigations, completed in December, following consultation with the Environment Agency, Isle of Wight Council and as a result of the new National Planning Policy Framework.”

Image: Sean Rogers1 under CC BY 2.0

Friday, 12th April, 2013 12:51pm



Filed under: Cowes, East Cowes, Green Issues, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. It’s hard to see how it could be otherwise. Eurovia were happily accepting the initial report of no asbestos, as were the Council and its planning dept. What would have stopped it, except for WRAP’s intervention?

    The Council never enquire into anything when not enquiring produces the result they want.

  2. Black Dog

    12.Apr.2013 2:01pm

    Well done Julia and the WRAP team. We all need to let Eorovia that we are not pushovers and that this matter is far from concluded.

  3. This absolutely stinks.
    Just like the council’s refusal to accept VTC’s nomination for the Coastal Visitor’s Centre stinks. And the situation surrounding the new Cowes Enterprise College stinks.
    The foul odour of failure and maladministration is EVERYWHERE!

  4. Our present (mal)administration appears to be the most corrupt council I have ever had the misfortune to come across. It only needs 21 of the Island Independents to be elected next month and this lot will be sent to the landfill tip of history. Come on Islanders show these undemocratic excuses where they belong!

  5. downwind resident

    12.Apr.2013 5:52pm

    So Eurovia say they are going to import fresh clean soil to form the enormous acoustic bund they need to surround this monstrous asphalt plant.

    But wait, Eurovia were originally going to dig down into the landfill site and use the contaminated soil in order to lower the visual impact of this vision of Hades upon the local population (and save themselves lots of money).

    Just imagine, that for some crazy reason (or for no reason at all), the IWC grants Eurovia planning permission to build this toxic emitting plant on the banks of the Medina. Well who is going to ensure that only fresh clean soil is used and not any of the fetid asbestos laden spoil from the landfill site?

    How could we countenance a ‘Condition’ be applied by the IW Planning Department in the pious hope that Eurovia would comply with it when we all know from the ‘Gross Negligence’ finding in the French Appeal Court that this is a company that doesn’t even look after its own staff let alone local people?

    All they want is profit!

    All we want is a healthy environment for our families!

    • James Luke

      12.Apr.2013 7:09pm

      How much earth are Eurovia actually planning to move?

      Assuming they stick with their original plan of digging down (raising the levels would surely constitute a very serious material change requiring re-submission of the planning application), they will be required to remove all the contaminated earth.

      I understand that the site is 80mx100m and that the contamination could be up to 5m deep. I assume that all this soil will be compacted and that when dug out will expand significantly in volume? Are there any experts reading this who can estimate exactly how much earth they plan to move? And all of this needs to be done with suitable controls to protect the workers and the public. How do you transport contaminated soil? Are special trucks / containers required?

      Then of course they need to import earth to construct the bunds? Is any of this practical?

      Alternatively, should Eurovia decide to cap the site does that mean laying a single concrete slab (8,000 square metres) across the whole site? How deep will that cap need to be and how will it be supported? Will they need to pile underneath the cap? How much higher will the proposed site be?

      Any experts out there able to provide any answers to the above?

      I suppose we could ask the Council and / or Eurovia …. but they don’t seem to answer our questions!

  6. I do not believe it

    13.Apr.2013 8:36am

    Do nor forget, especially come the May elections, that just a short time ago ‘Pughrile’ accused WRAP of “scaremongering” about this proposed noxious asphalt plant.
    I can understand the slimy behavior of Eurovia and it’s executives – they want to make wads of cash! But what I cannot digest is the disreputable conduct of Pugh and his cohorts.
    Mind you, I should not be surprised – after all, yesterday we were told that the Isle of Wight has the highest rate of school truancy in the country (WOW – that includes Liverpool too!) so if our Council cannot manage absent schoolkids, how can we expect them to manage and control professional duckers and divers like Eurovia?

  7. Scaremongering? Yes, that word again.
    It’s one of David’s favourite rebuffs whenever his disastrous ideas are questioned.

  8. James Luke

    13.Apr.2013 11:41am

    They certainly denied the obvious for far too long …. that’s another common factor between that disaster and this application.

  9. As the Isle of Wight has to repair and upgrade its roads why don’t Eurovia/Island Roads just sit down with the Isle of Wight Council and discuss alternative sites for their asphalt plant instead of pursuing it at this highly problematic site?

    • As I’ve noted on another topic this morning, it’s beyond wierd! There must be some powerful financial vested interests involved, that stop this being resolved sensibly…..(The latter not a phrase readily associated with County Hall).

    • James Luke

      13.Apr.2013 1:09pm

      Guy – I couldn’t agree more! In my experience professional people know that a win-win solution is always the optimal solution. Starting a 25 year contract with this level of conflict is certainly not healthy.

      I have heard statements from Councillors that imply the delivery of the contract is Eurovia’s problem. Whilst legally that may be accurate (although the Jury is out on that one), it does not seem to be in anyone’s best interests. If Eurovia aren’t able to deliver the PFI we all suffer. If the extra cost of dealing with this issue is passed on to Islanders we all suffer. If the planning application drags on for another 2 years we all suffer.

      The Council should be working with the Applicant to find an alternative site!

  10. Happy Daze

    13.Apr.2013 2:32pm

    Spare a thought for the IWC Planning application Case Officer

    There have been so many pathetic attempts by Eurovia to paper over the cracks all of which have been countered bt WRAP that it will take a team of scientists to consider all this stuff.

    I look forward to reading the Case Officer’s Report in due course (perhaps sometime just before Christmas) and learning by how many reasons he will have recommended a REFUSAL to tha Planning Committee

  11. Bystander

    15.Apr.2013 8:25am

    The Council appear to have sabotaged their website with 2 weeks to go before the election. All my bookmarks to planning applications on their site are returning page not found as are google search results.

  12. downwind resident

    15.Apr.2013 8:32am

    James Luke’s web-link to the soil remediation works undertaken at Greenwich for the Millenium Dome (O2) building is excellent bedtime reading for Eurovia and PD Ports.

    Isn’t about time PD Ports had a word with the IW Council about the cost of cleaning up all the old IW municipal rubbish on their land?

    Why on earth did the IW Council suggest this contaminated landfill site to Eurovia in the first place? Were they looking for a fall-guy to pay for all the remediation works?

    I’m beginning to feel a little bit sympathetic to Eurovia!

    I suggest that Eurovia walk away from this proposed site as soon as possible or they will become responsible for enormous upfront costs just to prepare the site and of course thousands of private claims later on for every case of asbestosis and respiratory disease on the Isle of Wight.

    There are of course precedents in the French Appeal Court for Gross Negligence against Eurovia which can be cited for their twice proven lack of care for their own employee(s) which will assist claims by IW victims in the future.

  13. Jill Russell

    17.Apr.2013 3:10pm

    Millennium Dome contamination due to old gas works. Just fancy, the Pelham Road/Arctic Road gasworks operated from 19th century till the 1950s just down the road from Medina Wharf. Gasworks were major asbestos users. So wonder where their waste went?

    Eurovia trying to minimise the asbestos findings is like the old joke : “Sure, it was only a very little baby, madam” the pregnant maid said.

  14. happy daze

    17.Apr.2013 11:07pm

    Who exactly is responsible for public health on this island of ours?

    • just a little one

      18.Apr.2013 7:39am

      The Isle of Wight Council is responsible for public health nowadays.

    • James Luke

      18.Apr.2013 8:44am

      Everyone points at everyone else. The planners say it’s a matter for the environment team, the environment team put the responsibility on DEFRA and EU legislation. The planners repeatedly state that it’s the responsibility of the applicant to conduct the required assessments and they seem to think that any issues can be addressed with conditions (again putting the responsibility onto someone else to comply with the conditions).

      Comments and recommendations are heavily caveated. For example, consider the comments of the Director of Public Health submitted as part of the the recent environment permit application. The Director of Public Health stated,

      “Compliance with the Process Guidance note with the use of best available techniques, good management and regulation will mean that the operation of this site is unlikely to have an impact on public health”.

      I count 4 caveats in that one statement:

      1. compliance with the Process Guidance note.
      2. the use of best available techniques.
      3. good management.
      4. regulation.

      After all 4 caveats, the plant is still “UNLIKELY” to have an impact. If public health is harmed, blamed can be placed on lack of compliance, bad management, etc. If all else fails, the use of the word “UNLIKELY” means that they can claim they were working within scientific knowledge at the time, etc.

      During the Regulatory Committee meeting, one of the Councilors (either Fuller or Bacon) asked if anyone was concerned about, or had investigated, the high asthma rates in East Cowes. There were met with embarrassed looks from the Council Officers.

      Councillors Fuller and Bacon were thorough and rigorous in their questioning and I personally am grateful to them for their integrity on this matter.

      We know the harm that asbestos can cause.

      We know the risks associated with emissions from this plant – the World Health Organisation has stated that “there is no safe level” for the type of emissions we’re dealing with.

      If Officials will not take responsibility then we the electorate must.

  15. Steve Goodman

    9.May.2013 9:19pm

    This scandal features in the current edition of Private Eye (1339; Rotten Boroughs); now that we have recovered from our bout of election fever perhaps there is hope for a more generally acceptable outcome.

    If we must have an asphalt plant here – and that is debatable – can we not use our present site, & local employees?

    • James Luke

      9.May.2013 9:51pm

      I hope that one of the first acts of the new Council will be to discuss alternative options with the PFI Contractor.

      The best business deals are those where everyone works for a solution that is in the best interests of all parties. That’s what needs to happen here!

  16. Black Dog

    9.May.2013 10:03pm

    @James Luke – James I have been following your submissions here for a while I think it would be very useful if you could let us know where would be a suitable site for the Asphalt Plant if one was needed? The current application is completely unacceptable

  17. James Luke

    9.May.2013 10:38pm

    One alternative option would be to use the existing site. I realise that there are commercial issues that will need to be overcome, however dealing with those issues can’t be as hard as clearing the contaminated land in Cowes and then overcoming the noise, dust, pollution, traffic congestion and economic impact issues associated with the current application.

    I don’t have the geographical or business knowledge of the Island to suggest alternative sites should a second plant be required. I would hope that Council Officers do have this expertise. Any alternative site would need to be at a location that did not generate over 1,300 objections from the local residents.

    The final alternative is to continue sourcing the Asphalt from the mainland. Eurovia have now shown that to be possible.

    • Downwind Resident

      10.May.2013 6:00am

      James if they were to cap the asbestos laden landfill site without removing any soil wouldn’t that raise the physical level of the asphalt plant?

      If so wouldn’t it have a dreadful visual impact to Tourists who use the River Medina?

      Didn’t WRAP have a montage on their website of that very visual impact that had to be removed by edict of a past Leader of the IWC( I forget his name already!) because it was allegedly ‘Scaremongering’?

      • James Luke

        10.May.2013 12:01pm

        The visual impact issues must now be re-considered. The original plan was to surround the site with massive bunds created by excavating soil from the site. I seem to recall the feasibility of constructing these bunds being called into question on issues of ground stability.

        If they cap the site, the bunds will need to be higher (2 metres I believe) and they will have to import the soil to build them.

        Without the bunds the visual impact will be horrendous. With the bunds it will still be considerable given the height and the fact they are still relying on vegetation on top of the bunds that will take years to grow.

        Raising the level by 2 metres must surely require re-advertising of the application.

        Personally, I don’t think capping should even be considered. If they’re going to disturb the site then clearing the contamination completely should be a condition of the planning.

    • Black Dog

      10.May.2013 8:15am

      Well said James, honest as ever.

      The information I have about the existing plant is that they have plan to upgrade their plant to allow them to produce the quality and grade of Asphalt required.

      Unfortunately the existing asphalt plant owners fell foul of the Island sickness thinking the IWC/Islanders had/have no other choice when it came to the PFI contract which is reflected in them being allegedly £55 million more expensive. This has backfired on them as anyone who goes up to the site will testify just how quiet the site is. Who are they making asphalt for?

      There are lots of people to blame for this mess

      • James Luke

        10.May.2013 12:04pm

        A classic case of loose-loose-loose.

        BV didn’t win the PFI.
        The Island gets this terrible proposal for a second unwanted Asphalt Plant.
        Eurovia get a planning dispute and a troubled project.

        So let’s hope that a new Council has the vision and sense to look for, and facilitate, a win-win-win.

    • O yes it is possible to bring asphalt from the mainland,been done very easily before on various occasions,the one i remember most was top of Medina Way-St Marys roundabout-towards the prisons,and the material was waiting at 05.30 each day.

  18. well they are doing something to our roads so the asphalt is getting her from Somerset .nice little earner for Wight link

  19. happy daze

    10.May.2013 2:51pm

    Black Dog from which source did you hear of this £55M?

    Do you know what it comprises and over which periods?

    Has the old IWC released sensitive bid information in an attempt to subvert competition?

  20. Black Dog

    10.May.2013 3:43pm

    All I can say it it was not a council source. It is hard enough getting information out of them on a FOI

  21. A little unrelated I know, but I do not recall a lot of objections being made when they drilled for oil on this same site.
    But then half the residents were hoping to become JR Ewing’s and Cowes would have become Dallas.

    • James Luke

      10.May.2013 9:06pm

      The reasons for my objections are clearly stated; air pollution, noise, exposure of contaminated land, dust, visual impact, traffic congestion and economic impact.

      The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that Local Authorities should “work proactively with applicants to secure developments that improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area”.

      Given that an Asphalt Plant will clearly harm the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area, I do not believe that the application should be approved.

    • downwind resident

      10.May.2013 11:58pm

      Which half were you in John R?

      And let me guess your surname is Ewing!

      WRAP is fighting a serious campaign against a dreadful proposition to destroy the locality and endanger residents health.

      I wish WRAP every success against the multi billion pound company Eurovia and its casino bankers who are only motivated by profit!

    • James Luke

      11.May.2013 10:50am

      @JohnR – John, your issue seems to be with the fact that we are objecting to this proposal. Rather than “objecting to objectors” on principle, it would be more constructive for you to address the specific issues raised. Contaminated land is just one of many well researched reasons why we feel this proposal should be rejected. The other reasons are air quality, noise, traffic congestion, dust, odour and economic impact.

      Several weeks ago I asked on this blog and in the IWCP if anyone could supply a positive case for the Asphalt Plant. Nobody did so!

      If you have a counter argument then please help me to see your point of view. However, it makes no sense to just complain at the fact we are objecting.

      If we hadn’t objected to the proposal then the contamination of the land would have been ignored and construction workers would have been exposed to asbestos!

  22. Have just today seen the first attempt at highway resurfacing by this company,all i can say to them is don’t do any more. What i saw was disastrous,and they expect it to last,no way,for a start it was either cold when it was laid or rolled to late.If laid by machine it’s disastrous,25 years ago we used to lay about 15 tones a day by hand,and get a better finnish,not open to let water in like that is,no insulated/heated lorry’s then,still i suppose it’s called progress.

    • happy daze

      11.May.2013 10:07pm

      ohmy can you confirm to which road you are referring please and what has happened exactly.

      Do you mean Place Road in Cowes?

      How bad is the asphalting ? Do lorries sink into it and leave tyre marks or is it breaking up?

      • Happy Daze,think it is Place road ,towards the roundhouse in Cowes,no ,lorries don’t sink or leave marks,not yet at least,put it this way,if i had had my driveway redone and that is how it turned out i would demand it was dug up and redone before i paid a penny for it.

  23. Old Road in East Cowes is worse now than before they started if this is the finished article

  24. adi whittaker

    11.May.2013 11:57pm

    MAY be the proposed Asphalt Plant site should be turned into a wind farm ??? i bet the locals would complain about that are may be housing . This happens all over the island and if this dosnt stop the island will never move forward . CANT WAIT TILL THE FIXED LINK IS REVISITED NEXT YEAR

    • James Luke

      12.May.2013 9:58am

      The lack of a reasoned, factual argument for the Asphalt Plant is the biggest argument against it.

      Objectors have presented well researched, factual concerns about the impact on health, the surrounding communities and the economy. We are yet to see a single positive reason why this proposal is needed.

      I have asked on this blog and in the IWCP for someone to present the case for the Asphalt Plant. I have not seen a response.

      With reference to the subject of this article, if it had not been for the persistence of the objectors the asbestos contamination would not have been discovered. Construction workers could have been exposed to this contamination and history has shown how dangerous that can be.

  25. tell you what adi how about we dig up some of this contaminated soil and dump it in your garden then you can build your own wind farm on it

  26. Downwind Resident

    12.May.2013 10:51am

    I have just had another look at the Asphalt Planning website (web link above on Happy Daze’s comment above) and there is still no sign of any submission by Eurovia stating what they actually intend to do to protect the public from the asbestos.

    All the asbestos – contaminated land should be excavated and taken away to a safe landfill site where no one is ever going to disturb it.

    Or why not just leave it where it is and turn the landfill site into a public recreation area.

    We don’t need an asphalt plant, in the Medina Valley.

    Make up your minds Eurovia CLEAR UP or CLEAR OFF!

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