Mobile homes dilemma

MOBILE homes bought as temporary accommodation for residents of a site in Eynesbury while it is decontaminated should not be sold at the end of the project, district councillors were urged last week. Instead, Councillor Nick Guyatt demanded, they should b

MOBILE homes bought as temporary accommodation for residents of a site in Eynesbury while it is decontaminated should not be sold at the end of the project, district councillors were urged last week.

Instead, Councillor Nick Guyatt demanded, they should be used to house homeless people in Huntingdonshire.

HDC will spend more than £500,000 purging the site off Howitts Lane, which has been found to be contaminated by a potential cancer-causing agent, benzo(alpha) pyrene.

As much as £400,000 will be spent on buying up to five mobile homes and the land they stand on to house 46 of the 50 families for a week at a time while the soil around their homes is excavated to a depth of two feet and replaced with fresh earth.


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The council's leader, Cllr Ian Bates, asked housing officials to look at the possibility of retaining the homes after the work is finished early next year.

With conveyancing and other costs, including the work itself, which is currently out to tender, the total bill is expected to exceed £500,000. But, if the mobile homes were re-sold and after the Government has paid for nearly all the other work, including the scientific investigation and excavation, the burden on Council Tax payers is expected to be small - though they will have to pay a horticulturist to re-plant people's gardens.

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The site was built on 17th-19th century clay pits that were found during a routine check to have been filled in with pulverised fuel ash from commercial furnaces during or after World War II.

When test borings last year found concentrations of benzo(alpha)pyrene at 10 times the national background level of one part per million, Huntingdonshire District Council warned residents to take particular care with personal hygiene and not to dig deep holes in the soil.

High concentrations of carbon dioxide - a breakdown product of benzo (alpha)pyrene - were also found in areas where residents had put brick bases beneath their caravans.

The chemical could possibly cause cancer if someone were exposed to it over a whole lifetime. HDC stresses there is no short term risk, but it is required by law to remove the affected soil.

Sue Lammin, HDC's head of environmental services, told The Hunts Post: "No level of benzo(alpha)pyrene has been identified as safe. It has not been shown to cause cancer in humans, but it has in animals at high levels. There's a theoretical risk if people spend a lifetime there. Even so, it is right that we should be cautious.

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