The proposed development of land at the former West St Leonards Primary School site by AmicusHorizon seems at first to be a good idea, until you take into consideration the full history of the site.
The developers have had a professional survey carried out with a view to discovering if there is still any threat associated with the burial of anthrax infected cattle, sometime in 1940, during the Second World War.
It is generally accepted by all parties that these cattle were buried somewhere within the boundaries of the site, but the problem is, there is no hard evidence as to exactly where.
The survey company has discovered no signs of anthrax in any of its trial holes - however, that does not mean there is no anthrax, as they may not be down to the appropriate depth, due to the amount of landfill over the burial pits.
It has also stated that further targeted surveys should be carried out, if the actual burial sites could be confirmed. This would go a little way to eliminating some of the danger, but not all, as again there is potential for anthrax to leak through the site via the water table.
This would leave construction workers and all associated services, not forgetting the tenants and all future inhabitants of the area, at risk. Research has shown that the last thing anyone should do is to disturb anthrax infected ground. Opinions differ as to how long ground should be left undisturbed, anywhere from 60 years to 500 years, but can anyone offer definitive proof of when it will be safe?
Anthrax poses a real danger to the health of anyone coming into contact with any of its three forms, all of which can prove to be fatal, with the most dangerous being airborne spores which are inhaled into the lungs which, according to most scientific belief, nearly always proves fatal.
To support the case for how dangerous it could be to turn this area into a building site it should be noted that all the samples taken in the survey were taken and then sealed in plastic containers and sterilised then sealed again in plastic bags and again sterilised and then transported to Porton Down laboratories, who specialise in testing highly dangerous microbiological substances.
Why is East Sussex County Council so eager to use this land, for this or any development? When, apart from potential anthrax contamination, the site also suffers from regular flooding and is a former landfill site, which surely poses potential for future settlement problems and appears in the report to be suffering from an unacceptable level of methane emissions.
To round it all off, it seems that the residents of the area are to lose another piece of green land. The need for housing and extra-care accommodation cannot be denied, but this is just not the right place for this proposed development.