Residents demand urgent action over giant 'contaminated' former Somerset quarry

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Villagers living near a disused quarry in Somerset are demanding urgent action to make the site safe, after confirmation it contains asbestos and could be accessed by children.An action group claims the previous owners of Queen Charlton Quarry, near Keynsham, were allowed to dump unknown waste for years - unchallenged.

Now they're calling for the local council to clean up the tonnes of hazardous rubbish.

"This is the worst case of illegal dumping of contaminated waste in the green belt I have ever seen," said town planner Rob Duff, who is advising the residents.

""We have a very large, unauthorised development in the green belt which is now unsafe. (We) contacted the council and reported the unauthorised development in 2016.

"The council refused to take action at the time and allowed hundreds of thousands of tonnes to be brought onto the site."

The site has been abandoned for years after the operators moved out Credit: ITV News

So many tons of contaminated waste, it's claimed, a large hill grew six metres above the near 27 acres of land it surrounds.The Environment Agency has confirmed materials onsite do contain low levels of asbestos.Pools of stagnant water are estimated to be two meters deep, making it a safety concern, particularly for children who, activists say, can easily access the site."We're obviously all very concerned," said Kerry Morgan, chair of Protect Our Keynsham Environment. "We'd like to see the council take some action. It has the power to do so under the Environment Act and we would like to see them inspect the site, make it safe." Campaigners say the owners went into liquidation and the site's ownership lies with the crown but focus is falling on the local authority to act.

In a statement Bath & North East Somerset Council said: “We have taken planning enforcement action by issuing an Enforcement Notice requiring the removal of the unauthorised anaerobic digester facility on the site.

"This notice remains in effect on the land and would bind any subsequent owner of the land. We have taken further planning enforcement action in relation to the unauthorised waste deposited on the land.”But residents say the council has had years to resolve the site's issues once and for all."The council needs to do something about it," added resident Cathy Baker. "Examine it all, investigate it and get it cleared and put back to what it was supposed to be."