5th November, 2009. Hard to place journalism.

Final plea in opposition to building on
asbestos contaminated site

By Helen Gavaghan, Hebden Bridge.

Barrister and doctoral student, Jason Addy, made a final and urgent plea last night for more eye witness accounts of asbestos waste dumping by Acre Mill at the site of a proposed new eco friendly home on Billy Lane in the Old Town and Pecket Well area above Hebden Bridge.

In May this year Calderdale Council turned down the original planning application submitted by Mr Lyn Gledhill on the grounds that the building would be in the Green Belt.

Mr Gledhill is now taking the application to the Planning Inspectorate. Should the application be granted local residents will have no further redress.

If the decision goes against the applicant then, says Mr Addy, Mr Gledhill would have the option of moving from planning law and seeking a judicial review via administrative law.

"This is not a NIMBY issue," he said. Mr Addy is concerned that local knowledge of the seriousness of the contamination may be being lost.

Mr Addy was careful to make clear that he is making no accusation of Mr Gledhill.

Though called to the bar at Middle Temple, Mr Addy is not acting as a paid legal advisor in this case. He has not taken a pupilage, having instead gone directly to work for solicitors after being called to the bar. He emphasizes he is an academic researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University who has worked through hundreds of files relating to this issue and that he has not yet completed his thesis.

Mr Addy told last night's meeting, held at The White Lion pub in Hebden Bridge, that he is an activist and that he is concerned about others seeking to build on other land locally that is contaminated by asbestos waste. He told me later that Council-led remediation of asbestos contaminated sites paid for by central government has not yet been sufficiently thorough.

Both blue and white asbestos were used at Acre Mill. A documentary from 1972 by Granada TV screened by Mr Addy last night reported that Coroner's records in Halifax show deaths from lung cancer, mesolthaelioma and asbestosis among many local people, and the documentary reported a correlation of those deaths with working at the Mill.

A practising lawyer at the meeting who has acted on behalf of claimants for damage from asbestos dust said in response to my questions that he has not sought advise from medical geographers and epidemiologists about whether there is any safe low part-per-million level for exposure to asbestos dust (be it blue or white asbestos).

If anyone has information that Mr Addy can add to his submission in opposition due Monday 9th November he can be contacted via email at

For further reading about the history of Acre Mill in the Calder Valley explore the archives of The Evening Courier, main office Halifax, and formerly the Halifax Evening Courier, at Halifax Central Library, as well archives for the The Hebden Bridge Times and the Hebden Bridge Web.

As a researcher and activist Mr Addy is interested also in the international trade in white asbestos.

Helen Gavaghan is the editor of Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X, and she grew up just a few fields below Acre Mill, before leaving the Calder Valley in 1976 to read biophysics at The University of Leeds and then moving to London and next to Washington DC for work. She now again lives in the Calder Valley. Minor corrections made on line within 24 hours of posting and again today 6.11.09. I contacted Calderdale Council prior to posting this story but the individual thought to have responsibility for commenting was not then available. Calderdale's comment will be added here if and when I receive a response to my call.

However I will not be following up this story for publication on this website. HG. 6.11.09.