No smoke without fire?

Residents in Rosewell are concerned about mysterious smoke and dust in the area surrounding drilling rigs on a construction site.

The Avant Homes development off Gorton Road has been under construction for three months but water needed to prevent the smoke and dust was not on site until last week, following a threat from Midlothian Council’s environmental health department to shut the development down.

Avant Homes site currently under construction in Rosewell

Avant Homes site currently under construction in Rosewell

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Since they started work they have had complete disregard for the local community.

“They are using boring rigs to drill into the old mine shafts and filling them with cement. They are supposed to be soaking it but they haven’t.

“It produces dark clouds of stuff. Everyone in the vicinity has had to keep their windows shut and you couldn’t walk down the street.

“I asked Avant for research into what we have been breathing in. Some children have had really bad asthma and a dog had to go to the vets. It’s like soot we are breathing in but nobody will tell us what it is exactly.

“The residents are very concerned that it is something linked into the coal mines. Is this going to cause long-term health problems, what is it?

“Fair enough, we have a building site next door. You have noise, traffic etc, but this has gone beyond inconvenience. It’s horrendous.

“Why will they not tell us what it is? Obviously we are now concerned that is something to worry about.”

Avant has promised to rectify the problem but has not revealed what is in the dust.

An Avant Homes spokesperson said: “After consultation with the local environmental health officer we have put several preventative measures in place to minimise the dust.

“This includes a full-time road brusher, regular checks on the water suppression on drilling rigs and the installation of debris netting to catch excessive dust. The environmental health officer has confirmed that he is satisfied that by doing this we are meeting our health and safety obligations.

“The site’s water supply was connected on August 26, so we now have the ability to wash down the surrounding roads, helping to keep the area clean.

“If residents have any concerns we will be holding an open day at the development on Thursday, September 8, from 11am-2pm, where representatives from our sales and construction teams will be on hand to answer questions.”

A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “After an investigation Midlothian Council served a statutory abatement notice and we will continue to assess compliance with that notice. Anyone experiencing any ill-health symptoms should seek medical advice.”