Former Walton gasworks

Former Walton gasworks

One of the primary duties of Elmbridge Borough Council is the wellbeing and safety of its residents and we take this responsibility very seriously.

There is a legal obligation for all Local Authorities to inspect their land for any potential contamination which may have arisen from past industrial uses.

In the case of the former Walton Gas Works site, we need to determine if residual chemicals and substances likely to have been generated during the approximate 90 years of town gas manufacture remain at the site. If they do, we need to ensure that they do not impact on those living within the site and local environment today.

Currently we do not have direct evidence of any problems with ground conditions in this area.  We are aware that measures were taken, when the land was redeveloped for housing, to reduce the impact of the gas works on the land but the evidence on the extent and effectiveness of this is unsupported and we need to be sure. It is our aim to gather evidence and ultimately to be able to reassure residents that there are no issues arising from the land’s previous use.

If you have received a letter and information pack you can book an appointment or ask a question using the online form.   

    

What is happening now?

From the research we have undertaken we can say that there is currently not enough evidence to confirm that the condition of the land is now acceptable and we need to know more.

The investigation work to be carried out in October 2017, will provide us with more information on the condition of the land and allow us to provide a ‘diagnosis’ on the land, enabling us to determine what, if any, further action should be taken to ensure the wellbeing of our residents and the local environment.

The investigation works

The ground investigations will involve a number of techniques, described in the Resident and owner information pack.

 

Frequently asked questions

Why is this work being done?
One of the primary duties of any Local Authority is the wellbeing and safety of its residents. Elmbridge, like other Local Authorities, takes this responsibility very seriously. Ensuring that the industry of the past does not adversely affect our residents is one of our environmental health responsibilities.

In the case of the former Walton Gas Works site, we need to determine if substances in the ground likely to have been generated during the approximate 90 years of town gas manufacture remain at the site and, if so, that they do not impact on those living within the site and/or the local environment today.

Over the decades of development on the site and in line with industry and government guidance of the time, any clean up measures undertaken may have dealt with any unacceptable risks to health or the local environment, but we don’t know and we need to know.

The purpose of the work we are undertaking is to provide the evidence needed to establish that there are no adverse effects on residents and the local environment.

From the research we have undertaken we can say that there is not enough evidence to confirm that the condition of the land has been adequately dealt with; we need to know more.

The investigation work to be carried out in October 2017 will provide us with more information on the condition of the land and allow us to provide a ‘diagnosis’ on the land, enabling us to determine what, if any, further action should be taken to ensure the wellbeing of our residents and the local environment.

We understand that this will be an uncertain and challenging time for the residents and landowners in the investigation area but we will do everything we can to lessen the uncertainty and disruption.


Why now? Why not before?

We have a duty under the Environmental Protection Act, to assess our Borough for the purpose of identifying contaminated land. To do this we have undertaken an inspection of the entire Borough to identify land potentially affected by ground contamination.

We do this in line with Statutory Guidance and our own Contaminated Land Strategy.
The result of this work allows us to prioritise land potentially affected by ground contamination, based on potential risks to people and the environment.

Only in the event of insufficient evidence being available to eliminate a potential risk would a site be subject to an investigation where actual ground conditions are sampled and analysed.

In the case of the former Walton Gas Works, our investigation so far has confirmed that substantial remediation of the majority of the site was most probably undertaken at the time of redevelopment, which would have substantially reduced (or even eliminated) any potential risks; however, we do not have evidence to confirm that this is the case and uncertainties identified must be resolved. 

Can I continue to use my garden as normal?
Yes, at this stage residents should continue to use and enjoy their gardens as they normally would.
We do not have any evidence that ground conditions in the area are causing adverse effects on the wellbeing of residents.

Is it likely that contamination will be found?
Over the years of development on the site and in line with the industry guidance at the time, any clean up measures undertaken may have dealt with any unacceptable risks to health or the local environment but we don’t know for sure.
We understand that this will be an uncertain and challenging time for the residents and landowners in the investigation area but we will do everything we can to lessen the uncertainty and disruption.

Is our drinking water safe to drink?
Yes. Your drinking water is treated and supplied by the water companies. It does not come directly from the ground beneath your homes.

Will it affect property value?
We cannot comment on the impact on property values but it is our aim that this investigation will resolve any uncertainty regarding ground conditions, which will be reassuring for residents and landowners.

Will it affect my planned house sale?
There may be some temporary effects on property transactions while the investigation is carried out, but you should speak to your solicitor about the impact of this investigation on your sale.

Why was planning permission granted for the development?
The redevelopment of previously used land for a new use, including residential, has been standard practice throughout our development history. Over the decades of re-development of the site and in line with industry guidance at the time, any clean-up measures undertaken may have dealt with any unacceptable risk to health or the local environment, but we don’t know and we need to know. We need to provide evidence to establish that there are no adverse effects on residents today.

Was anything done to clean up the site when the redevelopment was undertaken?
From our research, we can determine that efforts were made to remediate or ‘clean-up’ the site of the former gas works, in line with the guidance at the time.
However, we need evidence to establish that this work was carried out in the correct way so as not to present any unacceptable health risks to residents or the environment today or in the future.

Will there be compensation for damages and disruption caused?
We do not expect any damage to occur to land or property as a result of this investigation. We will arrange appointments for all activities on your property. You are welcome to be present during all activities on your property.

There is no investigation planned on my property? Why not? I want assurance that my property and family is safe.
The investigation has been designed by a specialist environmental consultant to provide sufficient, quality information to identify and assess the level of any risk due to ground contamination across the entire site. This will enable the Council, to make a decision encompassing the entire area. The findings will be applicable to all properties within the area of investigation, regardless of whether samples were taken directly from a specific property.

What will it cost and who will pay for it?
The wellbeing of our residents is our primary concern and we have set aside a budget to pay for this investigation.

    
Please call 01372 474752 if you have any questions not referenced on this page.

You may also be interested in our land quality page.

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