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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Noxious Haze (Update)

September 8, 2017 12:42 PM
By Stephen Lloyd MP

Birling Gap Noxious Haze:

Locally, many of you will know that I have been continuing to chase the statutory authorities over the chemical haze which struck Birling Gap and parts of Eastbourne last Sunday week. What was it and where did it come from?

It appears we still do not know who the culprit was. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency retain the on-sea lead and they continue to narrow it down from the 150+ vessels who were in the region at the time.

There is another factor in this whole extraordinary event however which I have only recently discovered. It seemed to me rather odd that none of the relevant statutory authorities had taken a proper sampling of what the the haze actually was.

At first, as I made enquiries, I assumed it was a basic lack of procedure. Not having the relevant protocol for instance. However, I've since discovered this was not the case and there 'is' already a protocol; from a Cabinet Office Guidance document. It's called STAC (scientific and technical advisory cell), and should be established when such an airbourne event occurs, and an air quality cell with the appropriate equipment, set up to collect a sample of the gas, haze, air or whatever it was, for later assessment.

And for some reason on the Sunday evening, it was not.

Apparently the lead agency who should have established STAC was the Environment Agency, so I have just written to their Chief Executive to ask why this wasn't done?

After all the noxious haze affected hundreds of people and all us still want to know what the chemical make-up was of the haze.

We need answers here & I'll ensure we get them!