Fears over ‘buried asbestos’ in Rye field up for auction

Rother District Council is looking to sell the field
Rother District Council is looking to sell the field

A 60-year tenant of a field being auctioned by the council is concerned about the lack of warning over an old landfill site near Rye.

The farmer, who wished to remain anonymous, accused Rother District Council of hiding the tip on Camber Fields, which he claimed contains harmful substances by not mentioning it on the auction lot.

But the local authority claims there is no asbestos at the site and an independent report into the potential environmental impact is available for bidders.

The farmer said he was not interested in buying the freehold of the field off New Road because he knew of the environmental risk the site posed and did not want to be hit with the liability.

“It’s almost like its trying to sweep it under the table,” the farmer said.

“Rother’s not being open as it is trying to dump its liability and if people didn’t know the history then it has the potential for someone to get caught out.”

The farmer’s concerns come from the asbestos-ridden Nissen huts that were dumped on the site after the Second World War, as well as contaminates from Rye Harbour.

He said it is relatively safe as it is all buried but if the new owner of the field decided to remove it, the environmental impact could be huge.

The tenant said he was ‘staggered’ when he saw no mention of the landfill site on Savills’ summary of the lot which is due for auction in London on May 9.

A district council spokesman said: “As part of our preparations to sell the site we instructed an independent consultant to carry out a search of records relating to any environmental issues regarding this land.

“This is a search of the archives of all relevant public bodies, including local councils, Natural England and the Environment Agency, and includes records relating to any material that might have been deposited at the site over the years.

“The results of this search are made available to any potential buyer so that they can make an informed choice when bidding for the site.

“While there is nothing from this search to suggest that there is asbestos buried at the site, it does make it clear to buyers that there is a history of landfill there.”

The field is being sold along with a number of council assets, including two parcels of land in Camber and some scrubland in Winchelsea Beach, in a bid to raise nearly £200,000 for Rother.

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