Farmer’s blast at SBC asbestos decision

It cost Scottish Borders Council over �1,000 to remove this pile of illegally dumped asbestos.
It cost Scottish Borders Council over �1,000 to remove this pile of illegally dumped asbestos.

A farmer has claimed it would be “grossly unfair” if he is forced to pay for the removal of asbestos which was illegally dumped at the side of a public road last month.

“So far, I have not heard from anyone to tell me officially it is my responsibility,” said Simon Brown, of Ashiestiel Farm, near Clovenfords.

The hazardous material was fly-tipped at the splayed entrance to one of his fields – but outside his farm gate – just a few feet from the D83/1 back road to Walkerburn before December 4.

It was discovered on that date by Tweeddale East councillor Gavin Logan, who lives in Clovenfords, and who immediately reported it to Scottish Borders Council’s neighbourhood services department. Four days later, at a meeting of Clovenfords Community Council, an SBC officer reported the fly-tipped asbestos would be removed, but that it would cost the local authority around £1,000 to engage specialist contractors to safely dispose of it.

But six weeks on, the pile, spilling out of a plastic bag, is still in situ, and Mr Logan is not amused.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that for whatever reason this material, some of which has been washed onto the road by recent rains, has not been removed,” he told The Southern. “I’m sure if it was a mattress, it would be gone by now and this sends out entirely the wrong message.”

At the end of last week, a council spokesperson said discussions were ongoing to identify if the asbestos had been dumped on private land and that investigations into the incident were continuing.

“We are working with colleagues in the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and NHS Borders,” said the spokesperson.

But this week came an updated bulletin from council HQ at Newtown, stressing that although the risk to health was minimal, the public is advised to stay away from the asbestos.

“Following our investigations we can confirm the material was fly-tipped on private land which means it is the responsibility of the landowner,” said the spokesperson. “We have contacted SEPA to inform them and they have agreed to contact the landowner.”

However, Mr Brown said this week that no such contact had been made and he had not heard from any public agency, including the council, despite phoning Newtown on Christmas Eve to say the pile had not been removed.

“I’m now actually very disappointed to learn, without discussion, that I am responsible for something illegally dumped at the side of a public road at a place used as a bona fide layby and public car park by walkers and cyclists.

“With fly-tipping on the increase, it doesn’t bode well for any other blameless property owners, whose taxes presumably pay for environmental health services, if they are going to be saddled with the cost of disposal.

“That, I believe, would be grossly unfair.”