Fears of residents on gas-hit Gorebridge street

Jennifer Barnett of Newbyres Avenue in Gorebridge.
Jennifer Barnett of Newbyres Avenue in Gorebridge.

A home owner says she is petrified to be still living on a gas-hit street and has criticised Environmental Health’s handling of the situation.

As reported in last week’s Advertiser, four families were evacuated from their Melville Housing homes in Newbyres Avenue in Gorebridge in September after dangerous levels of deadly carbon dioxide (Co2) were discovered in their homes.

It comes just a year after nearby Newbyres Crescent was completely evacuated and then demolished after the gas was discovered seeping into properties from old mine workings.

Now Jennifer Barnett (29), one of the few private householders on the street, is concerned about what she says is lack of information and support from Midlothian Council, a claim denied by the council, which said that all residents have been kept regularly informed.

Jennifer said: “All we have been getting is that these are questions for your lawyers, and get in touch with your insurance.

“We are private homeowners and feel penalised as we are out of the loop.

“We want to know the outcome. I’m petrified. I don’t think I would get another mortgage if this property is demolished.

“I can’t help but think the whole street will be demolished but at the moment they are trying to find a way around it. As soon as Newbyres Crescent was evacuated I thought they would have tested all the houses on the coalfields here.

“I don’t know what the outcome will be but it’s certainly causing us stress.”

Jennifer is also concerned about the gas alarm which was fitted in her home last month.

She said: “The tests are useless. The levels are going up and down. The first three days it went to 5000, as high as it could go. The majority of the time it was between 1500 and 3500.

“They gave us an NHS leaflet which gave conflicting information. It said that if it hits 50,000 then it’s a problem. However, online it says 5000.

“Environmental Health has been so unhelpful.

“The independent team told me that the houses knocked down were at levels of 5000. This time not much is happening, they are being hush-hush.

“Environmental Health keeps contradicting itself. I don’t trust them.”

Jennifer only found out about the evacuated homes last month.

She said: “I didn’t find out until January that houses had been evacuated after we got the letter about testing – I spoke to a neighbour and was told about the evacuated houses.

“I got in touch with Environmental Health, who didn’t say it was an emergency just that they wanted to do tests. They didn’t say anything about the houses being evacuated.”

A council spokesman said: “In September 2016 all residents on the Newbyres Avenue development, including the private sector properties, were informed of the ongoing investigation regarding possible elevated levels of carbon dioxide entering residential properties.

“Environmental Health has regular contact with residents and reassures them on their day-to-day concerns by providing advice and conducting on the spot tests for CO2.

“A copy of the results was given to this resident during a visit to provide advice, including an information leaflet which as jointly produced by NHS Lothian and Midlothian Council on the health effects of CO2.

“A CO2 monitor and a warning alarm system was sourced and installed in the living room of the property the following day. Monitoring and warning systems are in place in all the affected houses while investigation of the source and consideration of the long term interventions is ongoing.

“The safety of the residents remains a priority of the Incident Management Team.”