Dalgety Bay beach clean-up: Minister says application is in for permits to start work

The company contracted to remove radioactive waste from Dalgety Bay has submitted its application for the necessary permits to Scottish environment chiefs, the UK Government has confirmed.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 12:30 pm
A dog plays on Dalgety Bay beach

Amid confusion over exactly when the long-awaited clean-up of the coastal town's bay will start, Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, says construction firm Balfour Beatty has filed all of the necessary paperwork with environment body SEPA, contrary to remarks made by agency representatives at a council meeting last week.

In a letter to Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Neale Hanvey, Mr Quin says that the latest delay is down to SEPA and Balfour Beatty discussing "trials and testing processes" that relate to how the radioactive materials will be treated.

"The contractor made the Department aware last Wednesday (February 24) that while the licence had been submitted, discussions with SEPA are ongoing to satisfy the application which involves trials and testing processes," Quin said.

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"We are all looking forward to work getting underway in the summer and I have asked to be kept informed of the conclusion of the trial and test process, the submission of the final elements of the application and subject to SEPA’s scrutiny and approval, the granting of the licence."

As reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service earlier this week, the start date of the Dalgety Bay clean-up has been pushed back from spring to July 1 this year because of the delay in submitting necessary papers.

Dr Paul Dale, Sepa's radioactive substances specialist, told the South and West Fife Area Committee last week that he had not received Balfour Beatty's permit application, but pledged that the agency would do what it could to speed up the process.

"We're engaging with Balfour Beatty on a fortnightly basis to see where they are and help them to progress the necessary paperwork so we can determine their application as expediently as possible," he added.

It is the latest in a series of setbacks for a project a decade in the making - and SNP MP Hanvey remains sceptical that the MoD will keep its promises.

“After trying to spin their way out of this last week, the MoD has now confirmed, once again, that the radiation clean-up at Dalgety beach has been delayed by their own failings," he said in response to Quin's letter.

“We’ve heard it all before, so I think folk in Dalgety Bay can be forgiven for being sceptical about the MoD’s promises.

"People in Dalgety Bay have been disregarded for too long and I will not tire in providing my constituents with the robust representation they expect and deserve.

“The MoD must face up to its responsibilities and understand that no amount of mealy-mouthed excuses will make this issue go away.”

The operation will see trace elements of radium-226 removed from the beach and Chernobyl-style "rock armour" barriers built to prevent further contamination and coastal erosion.

While radiation experts believe there is no long-term risk to public health, areas of Dalgety Bay's coastline have been cordoned off amid concerns that the materials could give off radiation equivalent to thousands of chest X-rays in a single dose.

A base of operations is being established at Dalgety Bay Sailing Club.

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