Legal bid over Barnstaple gas works health fear

Joseph Bulmer

Notice served on National Grid as residents start legal proceedings, claiming clean up of the Barbican Road site is making them ill

LEGAL action is being pursued by Barnstaple residents who say their health continues to suffer as contractors clean up the old gas works site at Barbican Close.

Notices have been issued by solicitors acting on behalf of residents against site owner National Grid, calling on the company to cease or mitigate its decontamination work or face the threat of court action.

Since work began in readiness for redevelopment, several residents living nearby say they have been affected by dizziness, nausea, sore throat, stinging, itchy eyes and tiredness.

David Sumner of Portsmouth-based law firm Larcomes said the formal notices of statutory nuisance served on National Grid for odour, noise and fumes prejudicial to the residents had now expired.

If suitable evidence could be gathered, including the opinion of an independent expert, he said, the next step would be to seek a hearing at North Devon magistrates and get a notice of abatement or injunction issued, requiring work to stop or steps be taken to remedy the problem.

The Environmental Health department of North Devon Council has investigated the residents’ complaint and concluded there is no evidence at present to support the allegations.

The Gazette spoke to residents in July who claimed their health had been affected, yet their symptoms improved if they spent any time away from their homes.

Nadia Dew, National Grid commercial property manager, said: “Since starting work on the Barbican Close site in June National Grid has been operating strictly within best-practice guidelines to safely deliver this programme of environmental improvement work.

“We have been consulting closely with our neighbours throughout the course of this project and have made every effort to minimise any disruption.

“We also continue to liaise regularly with council officers from North Devon Council in regard to our delivery of this work. National Grid has received no formal notice to stop work on the site and is due to complete the project in October.”