Contaminated land investigation Gilroy community allotment

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

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The request was partially successful.

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Recently unearthed documents via FOI request to Merseyside waste authority have revealed that Gilroy community allotment / West Kirby Grange is within the boundaries of the previous Greenbank road landfill site.
According to old maps and documents tipping seems to have happened on the site, but WBC didn't assess the land re potential contamination before granting a lease for the site to become an allotment ( growing edibles for human consumption ) in 2011.
Can you please let me know :

1. What are the procedures WBC has in mind re investigations of the soil and assessing the risks for plotholders, their families and friends?
2. Which department is in charge for carrying out the investigations?
3. Has an independent contamination specialist company been commissioned to carry out soil testing and rsik asssements?
4. What is the time frame for the procedures? By when can the public be told the results of the testing?

Thank you for your time with my questions.

Yours faithfully,

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

The response for my FOI request re investigations into the soil conditions of Gliroy raod community allotment is overdue.
Can you please let me know why I haven't received a response by now and provide me with answers to my questions.
It is important that plotholders know asap whether the produce is safe to eat without causing long term health problems.

Yours faithfully,

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Ms Kuhlmann- Muller

Please accept our apologies for the delay in providing you with a response. Officers are currently working on your enquiry to ascertain what information is held and because of the time period covered, this is taking additional time to undertake a thorough search.

We do need further time to complete our enquiries and aim to have a response to you within 10 working days, being 10 December 2021. Thank you for your patience and understanding to date.

Yours sincerely

Lynette Paterson
Principal Information Management Officer
Wirral Council
PO Box 290
Brighton Street
Wallasey
CH27 9FQ

Email: [Wirral Borough Council request email]

Visit our website: www.wirral.gov.uk

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Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

Thank you for informing me that I can expect the delayed response by 10th December .
You say that officers are still working on the enquiry.
However :
One of my questions was : WHICH department or officers are involved?
Can you please let me know the response to that part of my request without further delay, please.

Thank you
Yours sincerely,

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Madam

Officers from Parks and Environment requested additional time to respond to your enquiry.

Yours faithfully

Lynette Paterson
Principal Information Management Officer
Wirral Council
PO Box 290
Brighton Street
Wallasey
CH27 9FQ

Email: [Wirral Borough Council request email]

Visit our website: www.wirral.gov.uk

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InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Kuhlmann-Muller

 

Thank you for your recent request for information regarding land at Gilroy
community allotment. We apologise for the delay in responding and can
comment as follows:

 

 1. What are the procedures WBC has in mind re investigations of the soil
and assessing the risks for plotholders, their families and friends?
 - Wirral Council understands that this enquiry started due to
discoloured water in a ditch on Tip Lane. While this discolouration
could be from contamination from the former tip it could equally have
arisen from run off the track or surrounding fields. Other
environmental indicators in the area suggest that contamination is
unlikely as Eels and Kingfishers have been found locally and these
species are unlikely to be present in a contaminated area. However, in
order to provide further assurance the Council intends to carry out an
assessment to identify if further investigation is required, this will
involve procuring the services of an independent environmental
specialist.

 

 2. Which department is in charge for carrying out the investigations? -
Neighbourhood Services

 

 3. Has an independent contamination specialist company been commissioned
to carry out soil testing and risk assessments? – No. Wirral Council
is in the process of procuring the services of an independent
environmental specialist to carry out an assessment. If the results of
this assessment warrant further investigation then relevant testing
will be carried out.

 

 4. What is the time frame for the procedures? By when can the public be
told the results of the testing? - Until Wirral Council has procured
the services of an independent environmental specialist to carry out
an assessment the timescales involved are unknown.

 

We trust this information is of interest to you.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Lynette Paterson

Principal Information Management Officer

Wirral Council

PO Box 290
Brighton Street
Wallasey
CH27 9FQ

 

Email: [1][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

Visit our website: [2]www.wirral.gov.uk

 

 

 

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If you have received this email in error please notify the system manager.

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1. mailto:[Wirral Borough Council request email]
2. http://www.wirral.gov.uk/

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Contaminated land investigation Gilroy community allotment'.

Thank you for submittting the delayed answers to my request.
Thank you also for initiating an investigation by an independent company.
After consultation with our expert witness, I have decided to request an internal review for the following reasons

1. The delay for the response was explained with the extra time needed by WBC OFFICERS.
However, all files re this case from the FOI request with Merseyside Waste authority had already been submitted to WBC environment health in August.
That's 4 month time to look into the matter.

2. WBC says in the response that the sighting of kingfishers and eels make it unlikely that the allotment area is contaminated. The groundwater risk isn't the main issue, the risk to human health from home grown produce is - depending on the level of clean soil covering the tipping area.

2. WBC says that the contaminated looking water colour could come from the surrounding fields.
I would like to point out that those fields were also previous landfill and are included in the provided Greenbank Rd tipping maps.

3. You say that WBC can't give a time frame for plotholders.
However :What is the time frame for procuring a geo-environmental consultant to assess the risk, undertake a CSM in respect to LCRM and BS10175?
Can the findings of the investigation be made available for my expert witness to review ?

4. WBC says that you don't have any records of the allotment area prior to 1980. ( See my FOI request re the lease of the land)
Are the records held by Closed Landfills and Land Search Database - Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (merseysidewda.gov.uk) the only records available for what was tipped on the Site?

5. Re the question who deals with this case you previously wrote that Officers from Parks and Environment requested additional time to respond to your enquiry..
Now you say that the neighbourhood team is responsible for this investigation.
Can you please explain the difference in departments and which officer is responsible now?

Thank you.
Yours faithfully,

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Kuhlmann-Muller

 

 

Thank you for your recent email 20 December 2021 requesting an internal
review in which you state the following, please find your review responses
included:

 

 

Thank you for submittting the delayed answers to my request.

Thank you also for initiating an investigation by an independent company.

After consultation with our expert witness, I have decided to request an
internal review for the following reasons

 

1. The delay for the response was explained with the extra time needed by
WBC OFFICERS.

However, all files re this case from the FOI request with Merseyside Waste
authority had already been submitted to WBC environment health in August.

That's 4 month time to look into the matter.

 

The Freedom of Information request that is the subject of this Internal
Review was submitted on 26^th October 2021. On the 26^th November 2021
Wirral Council requested more time, 10 days, as “Officers are currently
working on your enquiry to ascertain what information is held and because
of the time period covered, this is taking additional time to undertake a
thorough search”. A response to this FOI was provided within the
additional days requested.  Please do accept Wirral Council’s extended
apologies for this delay.

 

2. WBC says in the response that  the sighting of kingfishers and eels
make it unlikely that the allotment area is contaminated. The groundwater
risk isn't the main  issue, the risk to human health from home grown
produce is - depending on the level of clean soil  covering the tipping
area.

 

Thank you for your clarification, as you will be aware soil quality and
water quality are linked.

 

2. WBC says that the contaminated looking water colour could come from the
surrounding fields.

I would  like to point out that those fields were also previous landfill
and are included in the provided Greenbank Rd tipping maps.

 

Wirral Council responded as follows “Wirral Council understands that this
enquiry started due to discoloured water in a ditch on Tip Lane. While
this discolouration could be from contamination from the former tip it
could equally have arisen from run off the track or surrounding fields.
Other environmental indicators in the area suggest that contamination is
unlikely as Eels and Kingfishers have been found locally and these species
are unlikely to be present in a contaminated area. However, in order to
provide further assurance the Council intends to carry out an assessment
to identify if further investigation is required, this will involve
procuring the services of an independent environmental specialist”.

 

3. You say that WBC can't give a time frame for plotholders.

However :What is the time frame for procuring a geo-environmental
consultant to assess the risk, undertake a CSM in respect to LCRM and
BS10175?

Can the findings of the investigation be made available for my expert
witness to review ?

 

The question posed in the Freedom of Information request was “What is the
time frame for the procedures? By when can the public be told the results
of the testing?” To which Wirral Council responded “Until Wirral Council
has procured the services of an independent environmental specialist to
carry out an assessment the timescales involved are unknown”.

 

In relation to this new question, Wirral Council can confirm that
independent environmental specialist are being asked to provide quotations
for this work by 28^th January 2022. The findings of the report, once
produced and finalised, may be made available.

 

4. WBC says  that you don't have any records of the allotment area prior
to 1980. ( See my FOI request re the lease of the land) Are the records
held by Closed Landfills and Land Search Database - Merseyside Recycling
and Waste Authority (merseysidewda.gov.uk) the only records available for
what was tipped on the Site?

 

Wirral Council is unable to confirm what recorded information may be held
or processed by other organisations in relation to this site; the Freedom
of Information Act requires Wirral Council to provide the recorded
information it holds or processes.

 

5. Re the question who deals with this case you previously wrote that
Officers from Parks and Environment requested additional time to respond
to your enquiry..

Now you say that the neighbourhood team is responsible for this
investigation.

Can you please explain the difference in departments and which officer  is
responsible now?

 

Wirral Council can confirm its Parks and Environment Service is within the
Neighbourhood Services Department we trust this satisfies this question we
apologise  for any confusion caused.

To assist you further,  Wirral Council is organised into the following
areas, that can be viewed on our website [1]Departments in Wirral Council
| www.wirral.gov.uk

 

 

 

We trust that this provides you with a satisfactory response and concludes
your internal review.

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the result of your internal review, you
have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner, if you wish,
who can be contacted at: [2]https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

 

Yours sincerely

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management Officer

Wirral Council

PO Box 290

Brighton Street

Wallasey

CH27 9FQ

Email:[3][Wirral Borough Council request email]

Visit our website: [4]www.wirral.gov.uk

 

 

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   You are free
to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

Dear Information officer

Thank you for the response to my request for an internal review.
Re your statement
"as you will be aware soil quality and
water quality are linked."
I would like to ask which officer has made that comment.
Our expert witness very much disagrees with that assertion and writes :

"Soil and groundwater quality is not always connected, it depends on so many factors. I have assessed sites where groundwater is an issue but soil isn’t and vice Versa, they have different guidelines and tolerances. The chemistry of the contaminants of concern in soils have different leaching properties and might not reach the groundwater. If they do ( leach) low levels over time can build up a high level of toxicity,
Soil toxicity and groundwater toxicity is not the same!
Contaminants of concern in soils that are not relatively mobile or leachable are more of a concern for human health via food growth than groundwater. "

Can I please ask you to address this topic in a scientifically correct way.
Yours sincerely,

Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Kuhlmann-Muller

Thank you for your further correspondence.  Wirral Council does advise
that the information provided in the review response, 20^th January 2022,
concludes this request.

If you are dissatisfied with this response to your request for an internal
review, you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner,
who can be contacted at [1]https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

 

If you wish to submit a new enquiry you may do so to:
[2][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

Yours sincerely

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management Officer

Wirral Council

PO Box 290

Brighton Street

Wallasey

CH27 9FQ

Email:[3][Wirral Borough Council request email]

Visit our website: [4]www.wirral.gov.uk

 

 

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   You are free
to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections