Developers of new Cramlington homes tight-lipped over stythe gas study

Developers hoping to build hundreds of homes at Cramlington are refusing to disclose results of a study into a potentially lethal gas

Simon Hobson Pat Heard from Cramlington where trees and scrub have been cleared on a site owned by Persimmon Homes
Pat Heard from Cramlington where trees and scrub have been cleared on a site owned by Persimmon Homes

Developers have still not disclosed the results of research into a potentially lethal mine gas, over two years after promising to do so.

Persimmon and Bellway Homes have declined to tell local people and The Journal about the outcome of a study into whether stythe - also known as black damp - could endanger public health at their site at Cramlington.

Their failure to discuss the results comes despite the partners saying in April 2012 that they would be made public in six months.

The developers have said they are having to carry out further tests and said the results will be shared in due course.

The partners are hoping to build 600 houses on open space north of Station Road.

Hundreds of people in the town backed a campaign against the plans with one of their biggest concerns fears that the development will increase the risk of stythe seeping out of old mineworkings under the town and into people’s homes.

The gas has resulted in fatalities in the UK, and its presence has led to some homes in Cramlington having to be evacuated and monitored in the past.

In April 2012, residents were promised that the finding of a study by engineering experts into the stythe issue would be made public at a public meeting six months from that time.

The developers also said the scheme would not go ahead if the work concludes that it would result in danger to public health from stythe.

Simon Hobson Pat Heard, right, from Cramlington where trees and scrub have been cleared on a site owned by Persimmon Homes, with other residents
Pat Heard, right, from Cramlington where trees and scrub have been cleared on a site owned by Persimmon Homes, with other residents
 

The Journal asked Persimmon for an update but the company would not comment on the results so far.

Bellway has however revealed it has established the need to undertake further ground investigations at the site.

The company is also insisting the results will be reported to Cramlington Town Council once discussed with Northumberland County Council and the Coal Authority.

A Persimmon spokesman told The Journal: “All we can say is that investigations and further monitoring are still ongoing.”

Last night, Pat Heard, of the Cramlington Save Our Space (SOS) group which is fighting the development, claimed the continuation of tests and the companies’ silence backed up speculation that the results to date were showing higher than expected levels of the gas.

“We were told they were not getting the results they wanted which is presumably why monitoring is still continuing.

“This reinforces what we have thought. Saying nothing backs up what we have thought.”

County councillor for Cramlington West Barry Flux hit out at the developers for failing to keep local people informed, after Bellway said it would not be putting out leaflets to inform residents about the additional work.

He said: “It is unfortunate that they did not want to discuss with residents the extra drilling or extra investigations they are doing.

“The least residents deserve is to be kept up to date about what is going on.

“Persimmon ought to be honest about their plans for the site here. We are talking hundreds of houses here.”

The SOS group sought to block the development in 2012 by applying to have the site registered as a village green.

However, following a public inquiry in December last year, its application was dismissed in June.

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