Southall: West Londoners claim ill health caused by development on former gasworks

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A spokesperson for Ealing Council said the authority is aware of the issues raised, but that it has little in the way of powers of enforcement.

A west London development is being investigated for its potential health impacts after residents and clean air campaigners claimed works have left them feeling lethargic and unwell.

Imperial College scientists are looking into the effects of building on a former gasworks in Southall, with results expected in the next few months.

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Situated on a site not far from Southall station, Ealing Council, the local authority, originally refused the Berkeley Group permission to build the homes in 2009. This was then overturned by then-mayor Boris Johnson a year later, and the proposal went ahead.

The Green Quarter is being developed by the Berkeley Group on a former gasworks in Southall. Credit: Jack Abela.The Green Quarter is being developed by the Berkeley Group on a former gasworks in Southall. Credit: Jack Abela.
The Green Quarter is being developed by the Berkeley Group on a former gasworks in Southall. Credit: Jack Abela.

Since works began, locals have raised concerns about a pungent odour emanating from the new development, officially known as the Green Quarter.

Joginder Singh Bhangu, a resident whose rear garden backs onto the boundary of the site, told LondonWorld: “It all started in late 2015. I came back home from work one day, the front garden was full of red dust, the rear garden the same. Nobody telling us what’s going on. And later on, in 2016, our plants, my plants in the rear garden started dying. Ill health yes, soar throats, headaches, when you’re at home you feel lazy.”

He said: “There’s no sympathy, basically.”

Joginder Singh Bhangu said he had suffered with issues including soar throats and headaches. Credit: Jack Abela.Joginder Singh Bhangu said he had suffered with issues including soar throats and headaches. Credit: Jack Abela.
Joginder Singh Bhangu said he had suffered with issues including soar throats and headaches. Credit: Jack Abela.

A campaign group, Clean Air for Southall and Hayes (CASH), was established to push for more to be done to tackle the concerns of those living nearby.

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Angela Fonso, the coordinator for CASH, said: “It’s heavily polluted because it used to be a gas works. So the burning of coal and oil created lots of byproducts that seeped into the soil. My experience back in 2017 and 2018 was a really intense, pungent odour. I used to work at the college, West London College. The odour used to enter my office and also classrooms, and also at home.”

Angela Fonso, coordinator at CASH. Credit: Jack Abela.Angela Fonso, coordinator at CASH. Credit: Jack Abela.
Angela Fonso, coordinator at CASH. Credit: Jack Abela.

A spokesperson for Ealing Council said the authority is aware of the issues raised, but that it has little in the way of powers of enforcement.

They said the council has engaged with Public Health England and the Environment Agency to encourage them to undertake “rigorous monitoring”, so that if the guidance is found to be breached, the authority can take “swift enforcement action”.

“We have appointed a dedicated environmental protection officer to carry out both proactive and reactive odour assessments in areas surrounding the former gasworks site in Southall. Complaints are investigated, witnessed and evidenced,” they said.

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“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and want to assure residents that we are taking their concerns very seriously.”

Imperial College scientists are currently conducting a range of exposure assessments, including on residents, to determine the potential effects of the development.

No fixed date has yet been given for when results will be published, but it is expected they will be unveiled in the next few months.

The Berkeley Group declined to comment.

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