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Swift action on St Anthony's pollution blackspot using Growth Deal cash called for by Lib Dem's Dr Wendy Taylor

February 1, 2015 3:38 PM
By Wendy Taylor

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Newcastle East Dr Wendy Taylor has welcomed the announcement of £40 million of additional Growth Deal funding for the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), on top of £289 million already announced. The extra funding will support a number of significant economic development schemes on Tyneside, and will also include funding for a project to remediate contaminated brownfield industrial sites along the River Tyne.

Dr Taylor hopes that this funding can be used to address the need to tackle a particular pollution blackspot at the sites of the former tar works and lead works at St Anthony's, which now forms part of the Walker Riverside Park. Although the works are long gone, the site continues to leach pollutants into the Tyne and park users have been warned against accessing parts of the Tyne shore. There have long been calls for work to be carried out but until now this has been held up by lack of funding and cuts to the DEFRA budget for remediation of contaminated sites.

Dr Taylor commented: "I am aware from when I was the council's lead member for the environment of concerns about this site and its legacy of pollution. However the need further decontamination of the land has been held up for years due primarily to the need for funding. The previous Labour government and Minister for the North East failed to tackle this, and public spending cuts have limited DEFRA's budget for work of this kind in the current Parliament. However, the award of extra Growth Deal funding by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg now means that the North East LEP has a budget for decontamination of former industrial sites along the Tyne, and I am delighted that Lib Dems in government have acted on this issue.

"I would like to see swift action to progress work on this site, given that the problem is already known. Other former shipyard sites along the Tyne, including one of the former Swan's docks, will receive investment to create new business space. I hope that the St Anthony's site is also made a priority. Although other sites have more economic development potential, it is important to improve the environment and public safety at what is otherwise an attractive park site important for riverside recreation. Removing this contamination will also be beneficial to the biodiversity of the Tyne. I will be pressing Newcastle council and the LEP to bring forward plans as soon as possible now that funding has been made available."