Environmental Plight of Leyton Marsh: URGENT

Dear Cllr Chris Robbins, Leader of Waltham Forest Council,

In your email dated 27 April below, nearly a month ago, you invited me to contact you again if necessary.

Cllr Robbins, there are now three URGENT reasons why it is necessary to contact you again, and this time I am writing on behalf not only myself but also of the SAVE LEYTON MARSH campaign.

The three reasons are, in order of urgency:

1. Three dogs belonging to Leyton Marsh users have become ill within the last few days, after having drank from puddles on the Marsh, and one dog has been confirmed as suffering from chemical poisoning. Please contact the Waltham Forest representative on Lee Valley Regional Park, Cllr Bob Sullivan, as we have heard that LVRPA are taking this very seriously and have sent inspectors in.

2. Contaminated mounds. In spite of the statement in your email below to me that “The stripped soil is to be exported with documentation giving a written description of the waste”  the mounds of contaminated rubble on the southern side of the site have been there for nearly two months and have still not been removed off site by the contractors. (Please look closely at photos 1 and 4.) It’s become obvious that the rubble stockpile is not properly maintained to prevent contaminant run-off onto the surrounding area. The covering placed on the mounds is inadequate and frequently gets blown off in the wind, leaving the rain to lash onto the rubble, washing it and its contaminants down onto the surface of the Marsh. The mounds are larger than the meagre sheets underneath them and so the Marsh is unprotected from this leeching of contaminants.Neither is there a raised bund to retain water that runs through/off the pile. There are no other drainage channels and the rainwater is gathering in the ruts caused by the heavy lorries and plant and there are appaling conditions on the building site. (See photos 2 and 3.)
All this we believe contravenes the following ODA COCP Recommended Practice which should be in the construction contractor’s Method Statement:

Control of earthworks
7.3.4 A certification scheme shall be operated for the control of any treated or acceptable excavated materials. Where excavated materials cannot be taken to the place of deposition immediately
materials shall be stored in intermediate stockpiles prior to placement at the receptor site (CZ). Each stockpile will be clearly demarcated, and will be protected so that the materials can not
become re-contaminated i.e. they will be placed on hardstanding and covered. Stockpiles will also be constructed in such a way as to prevent the possibility of the materials contaminating the surrounding area.
7.3.5 Potential pollution concerns through increased infiltration within open excavation areas will be assessed, and given due regard. Particular care will be undertaken when areas of soluble
contaminants have been identified and these areas will be addressed to ensure that contaminants are not mobilised and impact receptors.”

3. Presence of asbestos proven. What is equally worrying is that you Cllr Robbins have clearly not been updated by the Head of your Environmental Services, regarding the toxic content of the mounds. In your email of 27th April below you informed both me and Stella Creasey MP, that no asbestos was identified.  In addition, the asbestos screening tests carried out on cement sheeting found in borehole 1 did not identify the presence of asbestos”. On 18th April however the 4-Rail Services had already reported to NUSSLI the contractors that chrysotile asbestos has been found as follows:

Results of Asbestos Identification Lea Bridge Road, E10 7QL
Report no : 4RS-JB-R190312-Rev02
Client’s reference number(s) : –
4-RAIL Services (4RS) reference number(s) : 111514/160312/01 – 111514/160312/03
Date sample(s) received : 16th March 2012
Date(s) of examination(s) : 19th march 2012
Issue date : 18th April 2012
Test Method
Samples were examined in accordance with the methods described in the HSE Document HSG 248 Asbestos: The analysts’ guide for sampling, analysis and clearance procedures and in-house test procedure 4R-E220. The results relate only to the items submitted for testing. Where samples have been taken by others, 4-RAIL Services do not accept any responsibility for the sampling.
4RS Sample No Client’s
Sample             No   Sample                                              Description                                        Asbestos Type(s) Detected
111514/160312/01 – Cement sheet debris fragment (<1m²), within excavated spoil / rubble heap. Figure 1. Chrysotile
111514/160312/02 – Cement sheet debris fragment (<1m²), within excavated spoil /rubble heap. Figure 2. Chrysotile
111514/160312/03 – Cement sheet debris fragment (<1m²), within excavated spoil /rubble heap. Chrysotile

Samples examined will be retained by 4-RAIL Services for a period of 6 months, unless otherwise specified by the
Analysed by :………………………. Mr. C. Isgrove, Laboratory Manager
Certified by

This 4-Rail Services report advises that the contractors should provide protective gear including masks for the workers who should then “handpick” the pieces of asbestos out. The photos in the report points to lumps as large as house-bricks that need to be removed in this way. In the meantime the dust from this and any other activity relating to the mounds, goes into the air – only a metre away from the perimeter fence, the other side of which are unsuspecting users of the Marsh. And there is no warning to the public. Has this report been made available to you?

Having considered all of this the SAVE LEYTON MARSH campaign demands that:

  • the Council’s Environmental Officers commence an immediate investigation with Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, and other agencies including animal welfare bodies to identify, analyse and examine any toxicity of the standing water and mud around the inside the construction site, round the perimeter fence, along the length of Sandy Lane and areas where the grass is degraded.


  • Waltham Forest Council requires the contractors to safely remove the mounds of rubble from the southern side off the site, away from Leyton Marsh and any other land used by people or animals BY THE END OF THIS WEEK.


  • the contractors are required by Waltham Forest Council to improve and restore the surface of the land across the building site and surrounds and keep it free from ruts where rainwater can gather, and to solve the drainage problems of the rainwater run-off during this construction period and later during demolition.

It angers and disturbs SAVE LEYTON MARSH campaign supporters that there is currently no channel of communication whereby we, as users of the Marsh and speaking for local people living nearby, could ever have been informed of the impacts of this volatility in the hazards let alone the management of them, just as there is no forum at present in which you or your officers can be informed by us of incidents such as the dogs becoming ill.

Campaign supporters have had to undertake detailed document research in order to find out these facts. This should not have been necessary: the local councillors of Waltham Forest Council, once alerted, should have been demanding that the land of Leyton Marsh is properly protected, they should be finding out what the contractual and legal requirements are, and helping us to monitor them. Campaign supporters have attended councillor surgeries week after week to try to get these messages across, we have attended the Ward Community Forum, others have sent emails including to you too. Invitations have been extended and yet some Waltham Forest Lea Bridge Councillors still refuse to come and see for themselves what is happening IN THEIR OWN WARD. Have you been there yet?

We are already making demands, in the context of the plans for the Reinstatement Plan, for robust consultation to take place. The latest happenings in terms of the conditions of the environment NOW during the construction phase, underline the urgent need for that consultation. We demand to have immediate contact with THE PERSON WHO IS IN DAY-TO-DAY CONTROL ON THE BUILDING SITE. The hotline number given by the ODA is not monitored by them and people’s queries are not picked up. The benefit of direct contact for the contractor is that they will find out in advance when things are going wrong, and be able to avoid things getting worse.

Cllr Robbins, I began by stating the urgency of what has happened, particularly regarding the dogs who have suffered painful conditions – local people are frantic with worry about where they can now safely allow their dogs to exercise, their children to play. I will end by emphasising the criticality of what is happening now to the long term future of Leyton Marsh. What’s happening to the Marsh now can cause lasting damage, the Reinstatement Plan could be scuppered because of any delay in dealing now with the contaminated rubble.

We are expecting to see a speedy response to these serious points.
We would like to meet with you this week to discuss them, preferably at Leyton Marsh. Please let us know when you are available.


Claire Weiss

Campaigning and lobbying link person

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