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Toxic fears lead to investigation

Vilagers are calling for an immediate halt to work on a wind farm site amid claims that potentially toxic materials are being used in its construction.

A report alleging that Industrial Bottom Ash (IBA) containing harmful chemicals is being used to build tracks and bases for the Cotton Farm Wind Farm on the former Graveley airfield has been passed to Huntingdonshire District Council.

The council is now calling on the Environment Agency to mount an investigation.

Bev Gray, of the Cotton Farm Action Group which is opposing the wind farm, said he was “stunned” to hear of the report.

He said: “We believe that all work on the site should be stopped immediately and that a full investigation should take place.”

Mr Gray said IBA was a waste material from coal power stations and that the report showed the material contained a high content of metals and sulphides which could leach into water supplies. It was also thought to be carcinogenic.

A statement from the district council said: “Huntingdonshire District Council has been alerted to this issue and forwarded it on to the relevant authority, which in this case is the Environment Agency, to investigate.

“We would be very interested and concerned to know what their findings are.”

Mr Gray said the report claimed that the levels of chemicals in the material were too high for current water and environmental standards.

He said there were concerns that run off from the site could get into local waterways, including the supply to Grafham Water.

Mr Gray said there were also concerns about the potential harm from dust which had blown over the village from the construction site.

He said the potential cost of a clean-up if the material proved harmful ran into millions.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said they had been consulted on the planning application for the wind farm in 2008 and made comments about flood risk, pollution prevention and biodiversity, along with recommendations on drainage.

The spokesman said: “The original planning application described the use of ‘crushed stone’ for access tracks and hardstandings for the turbines. We are not aware of any changes from that material.”

The wind farm is being built for power firm Renerco. A spokesman said: “As an established developer of clean energy sites around the world we are fully committed to our environmental responsibilities at our sites.

“It is common practice to use recycled materials that are Environment Agency approved in construction projects like this. All material used in the construction process at Cotton Farm wind farm is required to pass stringent environmental tests in line with relevant quality and environmental regulations.”

The spokesman said they would continue to work closely with the council and the Environment Agency and would keep residents informed about progress on the site.