Former airfield given all-clear from contamination

First published in News

A FORMER wartime airfield once used by British and Canadian bombers has been given the all-clear after finally being checked for potential land contamination.

Lancasters, Wellingtons and Halifaxes were among the aircraft that once flew from the old Second World War base at East Moor near Easingwold but it closed in 1946.

And as part of a Hambleton-wide inspection programme of historical land uses the site has now been painstakingly checked by experts.

It was possible that storage of bombs and fuel, as well as repair and maintenance of aircraft could have caused contamination across the site.

Contaminants such as arsenic, cadmium and lead and hydrocarbons from fuels are substances which can, given the right conditions under the ground, persist for many years and slowly pollute soils, groundwater, and streams.

And ff humans or animals are exposed over a long period of time it can lead to life-threatening diseases or other serious health effects.

The council investigated the site as part of its duties under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and initial investigations at East Moor started in 2012 with a desk-based review and walkovers of the site.

Following the walkover a phased “intrusive” investigation was carried out, with the co-operation of the land owners, which involved digging trial pits by hand in order to assess the soils for contamination.

The presence of unexploded bombs and radioactive substances could not be ruled out so safety measures were put in place which resulted in work progressing slowly.

However the results have now confirmed the site has no contamination that could pose a risk to human health, crops or animals - and no unexploded ordnance was found.

Hambleton’s senior scientific officer John Warren said: “The investigation of potentially contaminated land must be carried out in order to protect the health of humans and the wider environment.”

He added: “We have worked closely with our consultants and the landowners in order to minimise impact on the agricultural businesses operating in the area and to ensure that land is used in an appropriate manner in relation to risks to health.”

Now that the site has been investigated any future planning developments that take place may do so with more knowledge of the risks posed by former airfields.

Hambleton has already inspected other former airfields at Skipton-on-Swale, Dalton and Tholthorpe - and has identified more than 3,000 additional historical land uses in that will require inspection.

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