Mayfield Community Council is angry at the lack of action taken by the local authority after raising the issue of asbestos at a former school site.
The community council notified Midlothian Council after noticing reports of asbestos in the old Bryans Primary on Conifer Road, in documents relating to a planning application to build homes on the site.
The letter, sent to the council on October 12 by environment consultant Wardell Armstrong, states that asbestos was discovered at shallow depth. The letter relates to a report made more than a year previously. The council has told the Advertiser that this discovery is “not surprising” and that the asbestos poses no threat to public health.
Concerned Mayfield and Easthouses Community Council chairman Robert Hogg immediately contacted Midlothian Council and the three local ward councillors when he came across the report at the start of November.
He said: “It’s not just the community council, local residents are also extremely concerned about the discovery of asbestos contamination on the site. The site has been an open and unsecured derelict brownfield site for several years since the demolition of the former Bryans Primary School.
“Clearly there has been a risk of exposure to asbestos for local residents over this period. The asbestos contamination was identified in reports prepared by TPS Consultants in September 2017, more than a year ago, but was probably discovered even earlier than that date. Midlothian Council has been aware of the issue over the whole period.”
Mr Hogg has been left disappointed with the lack of action taken. He said: “It’s been weeks since I contacted the council but basically I’ve been from pillar to post. We are going with a Freedom of Information request now as we are not happy. They should have been right out there to survey the site. When gas was discovered in Gorebridge that site was closed off, they should be doing that here.
“The three local councillors have raised it also. And they have said (the council’s head of property) Gary Sheret is willing to talk to me, but I just want answers to the questions we have already asked.
“The asbestos has not been properly removed by the contractors in 2007 when the school was closed.
“There should be proper procedures and the council should have monitored it.”
Mr Hogg is concerned that this issue could occur elsewhere in the county.
He said: “We are not against new houses, it’s good for the area. But this flags up the question where else has this happened in Midlothian? You would think that if it has happened on one site they should review other places.
“That site has never been properly secured since it was demolished. There is a planning application in for 72 houses so we want guarantees that it will be removed before any decision is made.”
A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “The environment consultant TPS’s contaminated land risk assessment report identified traces of asbestos on the site. Asbestos found below ground near to older buildings is not uncommon (given asbestos was frequently used during construction prior to its prohibition in the mid-1980s). It is therefore not surprising there is evidence of asbestos below ground on the site, given the age of the previous building there.
“If we felt there was any threat to public health, we would of course, have fenced the area off and taken any other measures, if recommended to do so. However, Wardell Armstrong, the engineering consultant currently involved, is satisfied no action is required to dispose of the asbestos traces safely until the house building gets underway. We understand residents are concerned and, as stated previously, officers would be more than willing to discuss this further with them.”