Residents begin legal action in wake of toxic vapour claims against North Lanarkshire council
MORE than 75 people who claim their homes are toxic have launched legal action against a Scottish council and developers.
• Residents begin legal proceedings against North Lanarkshire Council over claims their homes were built on unsafe land
• Site had previously been a place where metals and chemicals had been processed
• Air tests of properties revealed toxicity breached safe limits set by World Health Organisation
Solicitors said yesterday/today (Tues) that 78 neighbours in Motherwell have lodged legal proceedings over allegations that the land on which their houses are built is damaging their health.
The families who all live in or around Watling Street claim that North Lanarkshire Council and developers City Link Development Company Ltd and Scott Wilson (Scotland) Ltd failed to ensure that the former industrial site was cleaned up properly before housing was built.
People living in social housing are also taking action against Lanarkshire Housing Association and Clyde Valley Housing Association.
The news comes as it was announced that a test case by another family in the street will come to court for the first time since it was launched in July.
The Scottish Court of Session in Edinburgh will set a timetable for Angela and Robert McManus’s case against Lanarkshire Housing Association, which will have to respond to the proceedings.
Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors which is representing the residents of Watling Street, said: “These properties are unfit for human habitation and, given the intransigence of those named today as defenders, the time has come for us to find an immediate solution to the ongoing health problems.
“Each of those named in the joint summonses is responsible for having failed to ensure the redevelopment of the Watling Street site in the 1990s resulted in land suitable and safe for residential use. The housing associations have failed to provide housing fit for human habitation.”
Angela and Robert McManus, who have a four-year-old daughter Sophie, moved from the area a year ago after becoming increasingly concerned about their health.
“It was just terrible. I was getting nose bleeds, headaches and felt nauseous all the time,” Ms McManus, 41, said when they launched their case in July.
Tests on the site by North Lanarkshire Council and experts appointed by Collins Solicitors have confirmed the widespread presence of high levels of toxic solvents including trichloroethylene.
Air testing at 25 of the properties last summer (2011) also found far higher concentrations of toxic fumes than acceptable levels set out by the World Health Organisation. The vapours also increase the risk of cancer.
The McManus test case is expected to prove that harmful fumes “have been, are or will be” present in the properties and that these substances, “on the balance of probabilities”, “are, have or will” adversely affect residents’ health. If successful it could lead to thousands of pounds in compensation for families on the street.
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