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Environmental Issues

Contaminated land is an increasingly common issue in the UK as more and more former industrial sites are being brought back into use for both businesses and new housing developments. Should you have concerns that land you own or live on is contaminated, or you’re worried your health is being affected, it can be hard to know where to turn for robust, independent advice. We can help…

For decades the UK government and local authorities have been bringing ‘brownfield’ sites back into use. These are often derelict factory or commercial sites of which there are thousands. In recent years over half of all new homes have been built on brownfield sites.

Unfortunately, many of these have been heavily contaminated by previous industrial use and pose a risk to human health unless properly decontaminated. However, tight deadlines, lack of expertise or financial pressures can mean developers, local authorities and other professionals fail to do this. Additionally, inadequate planning of decontamination work can leave you exposed to health risks during the process itself. In all cases if you own or reside on contaminated land, you can be left with significant financial loss and or health risks.

Environmental investigations are highly specialised and relevant documentation is often awash with technical terms and concepts. Fortunately we’re experienced in Technical talk and can translate into English for you, at the same time giving you clear advice and direction. Additionally, our understanding of the complex nature of environmental issues means we are able to prepare facts to take before the court or advise against pursuing the matter if we don’t think you have a good case. We can call on strong additional resources including geologists, environmental assessors, chartered surveyors, toxicologists, epidemiologists and neuropsychologists.

When concerns relating to contaminated land are raised, they often affect more than a single individual or business. Group actions of this type can be complicated and require particular expertise from solicitors. Collins has wide experience of group litigation.

Industrial Solvents: the Watling Street Cases

Collins is currently representing over a hundred residents of the Watling Street estate in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, in a current case before the Court of Session in Edinburgh in Scotland. The residents’ homes were built on a former factory site. While it was in operation the factory used the industrial solvent TCE, and other solvents known as PAH’s. Unfortunately these solvents were not properly identified after the factory was demolished and so houses were built over solvent contaminated ground. The solvents have given off fumes which the residents allege is harming their health.

The frequent use of brownfield sites in house construction combined with the long-lasting nature of solvent contamination and poor management of the decontamination of solvent contaminated ground in the past has resulted in increasing numbers of claims relating to exposure to harmful solvents being brought by ordinary members of the public.

If you want to learn more about TCE, more information can be found here.

IF you want to learn more about PAHs, more information can be found here.

Collins Solicitors has decades of experience in managing harm to health arising from contaminated land. Our expert litigation team can assist you in assessing whether you have a claim. Please call us on 01923 223 324 or 0800 731 5821. Alternatively contact us by email at charkness@collinslaw.co.uk.

Corby Group Litigation

Collins represented the Claimants in the landmark Corby Group litigation. This was a case in which the Claimants had suffered birth defects, caused by their mothers’ exposure to heavy metals during the clean-up of a former steelworks site in Corby, Northamptonshire.

After a ten year battle and a preliminary trial in the Technology and Construction Court, Corby Borough Council settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. The Corby case highlighted that local authorities and developers must consider any possible adverse health effects to local residents during the decontamination of a site. At the conclusion of the case our senior partner, Des Collins, won the Claimant Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year at the Personal Injury Awards 2010. Collins was also a winner at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2010 and the Claims Innovation Awards 2011 due to our work on the Corby case.

We currently act on behalf of a number of residents of the Watling Street estate in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, with regard to their ongoing health concerns. As a result of investigations we have begun court proceedings in the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Environmental Health Issues Litigation, Financial Packages

In line with our commitment to representing small businesses and individuals, as well as wealthier clients, we offer a range of funding packages for pursuing environmental litigation, including conditional fee agreements (CFA’s). Please contact one of our Environmental Litigation team to discuss.

Corby Case Leads To Award

Des Collins, won the Claimant Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year at the Personal Injury Awards 2010. The firm was also a winner at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2010 and the Claims Innovation Awards 2011 due to the work done on the Corby case.