Council officers insist that toxic land is safe for school road

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Concerns have been raised over the presence of cancer-causing contaminants present in land earmarked for a school access road.

At a full council meeting in March it was agreed to purchase the plot of ground to the west of the Park Burn, near Kirkintilloch’s Southbank Marina, for a road leading to the planned new £5million Lairdsland Primary School.

The SNP group tabled an amendment to the motion asking for “a detailed site investigation to establish the scale of contamination prior to concluding the sale”, but were outvoted by 14 votes to nine by administration councillors.

The site and the surrounding land has, at various points in its history, been the location of a nickel works, a distillery, a printworks, an iron foundry, a cement works and a refuse tip.

It’s feared that the mix of industries could have potentially left a mixture of dangerous toxins in the soil.

At last week’s meeting of the council’s development and infrastructure committee officers issued a written answer to a question lodged by SNP councillor Gordan Low about the extent of contamination at the site.

The findings, based on a report instructed by the previous landowner, show a range of toxins in the soil, including three cancer-causing chemicals - nickel, chrysene and benzo pyrene - at a level above “the relevant screening criteria”.

But councillors were told that the method of construction of the road would ensure that the risk from the toxins present would be minimised.

However Councillor Low says that the council should still have instructed their own report BEFORE agreeing to the purchase.

He said: “It has come up at meetings on a couple of occasions when we have asked for a full contamination survey to be carried out before the land is purchased. On both occasions the amendment was outvoted.

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