Fencing is installed around homes close to ‘hazardous’ site

A large flame-resistant fence has been installed around a housing estate amid fears over its close proximity to a hazardous waste site.

The new fencing in Walkmill Lane, Cannock
The new fencing in Walkmill Lane, Cannock

Walsall Housing Group has installed 4m-tall heat-resistant fencing around properties in Walkmill Lane in Cannock.

Whg manages 55 of the 111 properties on the Chenet Chase housing estate. Those 55 are all affordable homes.

Some of them are built close to Axil Integrated Services Limited, which has prompted safety concerns from Axil in case an industrial accident happened.

This could see a large fire take place where poisonous gases could be let off and inhaled by nearby residents.

The company says the likelihood of such an event would be low, but the consequences of an accident “would be high”.

Axil’s managing director, Edward Pigg, said the safest option for residents would be to move its operation elsewhere, at a cost of £2m.

However he said this was not currently viable financially.

In June 2019, dozens of the whg properties closest to Axil’s boundary – nearest to storage areas containing high-risk substances – were left unoccupied after construction was completed.

Obligations

Those homes have now been occupied following the construction of the fence – which is intended to mitigate risks to residents.

Planning approval for the development was given in January 2016.

Mr Pigg said: “The culture within Axil is safety driven and we do our very best to ensure that our site operations are carried out in a way that not only meets but exceeds all of our legal and regulatory obligations so that we do not compromise human health or the environment, however, there is always a risk of an accidental event occurring that is beyond our control.

“Our site activities are suited to an industrial setting, but housing has been built up to our boundary without due consideration to the conflict in land use and the potential dangers that creates.”

Rebecca Bennett Casserly, corporate director of development at whg, said: “All homes at Lakeside Boulevard are now occupied, and feedback from customers has been very positive.

“Customers moved into 14 of our homes in August 2019. The remaining 34 were occupied in 2020 once work on installing a boundary treatment was complete.

"This boundary was installed in October 2020 following extensive analysis and advice from a range of independent specialists, and further enhances the safety measures already in place at the development.

"We have a positive relationship with Axil and are working closely with them to ensure our customers continue to be safe in their new homes.”

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