Campaign Against the New Kiln

75 Bryn Awelon, Bistre Heights,
Buckley, Flintshire, CH7 2QF

Telephone: (01244) 549421

February, 2008

An Update – Because CANK is still around

1. This report is to update the communities around Padeswood Cement Works and particularly those of you who became formal members of CANK when it was first formed in 1999.


2. The first thing that I will deal with is why those “members” were never as it were “chased up” to continue with annual membership and payment of membership dues. I can assure you that it was not because we did not value your support and contributions. However, from 1999, those of us who formed the Committee were on a very steep learning curve.


2.1. That learning curve was not only about cement kilns, waste materials, alternative fuels, co-incineration and Public Inquiries, but also on matters of Party Politics, law and procedure and the difficulties of dealing with Multinational Companies, Groups, Agencies and Government Departments, all of whose agendas appeared to be solely directed at confounding the efforts that CANK was making on behalf of the health and welfare of the local community.


3. CANK was, and still is, a campaigning entity. In that role, we challenged, confronted and attempted to call to account those who, we believed and still do believe, threaten the good health, quality of life and welfare of the local community.


3.1. Early on, CANK found itself threatened with a serious civil law suit, aimed at putting us out of business. With a very professional and dedicated legal team behind us at that time, we were able to see it safely off. However, the very nature of that action and the particular nastiness of it, brought to light the fact that, in law, the satisfaction of any successful civil action against CANK could involve a financial liability being placed upon every formal “member”, not just “the committee.” So, your formal “membership” was, without fuss or newspaper headlines, deliberately allowed to lapse in order to protect you, your finances and material assets.


3.2. After that rather nasty, but thankfully unsuccessful episode, those of us who remained on the Management Committee knew the risks and chose to accept them.


4. Since then, both I, and one other outspoken member of the committee have been verbally warned, some while ago now, by the Environment Agency that members of their staff and the Agency itself were “considering their legal position” in terms of assertions and challenges put to them by us. So far, they have not gone beyond wagging a verbal finger.


4.1. There are some in the broader environmental protection campaign who are inclined to say, “Go ahead, we dare you!” because they firmly believe that there are aspects of the Agency’s work that Government might not wish to have any public spotlight placed upon; particularly the arrangement of allowing much of industry in general to “Self Regulate” its own activities. However, that is another story!


5. CANK’s committee members have been regular attendees and contributors at the Community/Cement Liaison Committee created to foster better communication between the local Cement Company, the Environment Agency as Regulator, Local Authorities and Community Interest groups. The existence of that committee does allow Castle Cement and the Environment Agency to state truthfully that “dialogue” exists. Regrettably, both the cement company and the Environment Agency have, until recently, been somewhat slow and appeared decidedly reluctant to take on board and respond, meaningfully, to the genuine concerns and legitimate complaints of the community.


5.1. For instance, at the commencement, 8 Critical Success Factors were drawn up and agreed by all parties. The very first was that a Baseline Health Assessment should be undertaken of the entire locality before Kiln 4 commenced activities. That to be repeated in 5, 10, or 15 years down the line, so as to act as a comparison and a measure of any significant change in health pattern.


5.2. As Kiln 4’s structure began to rise, assurances that that survey was “being looked into” continued. Those reassurances went on right up until Kiln 4 commenced its commissioning activities. After that, the advice from the authorities rather abruptly changed. Such a “Baseline Health Survey” suddenly became too costly, too small in numbers to be statistically valid. Besides that, there was, also rather suddenly, no pool of qualified staff available to undertake the work anyway. Thus, to date, no baseline health survey has ever been carried out. Now of course, it is far too late.


6. CANK’s website has been a major success, nationally and even internationally. It is still operational, thanks to the continuing efforts of Jonathan Coleman, our Webmaster. It receives a steady number of hits every week. Many of them result in email contact between me and community groups elsewhere in the UK and abroad.


7. From those links, a loose network of “cement beset communities” has come about, with Rugby In Plume, The Air We Breathe Group” (from Westbury in Wiltshire) and CANK occasionally getting together to represent common interests before the Environment Agency’s Board at their public access meetings around the country and in other meetings. We link with Ketton and with Clithero also in these matters.


8. In 2006, the groups combined to attend an International Conference on Cement and Communities in Nice, France. There we met with representatives from USA, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Spain to discuss the health and community problems associated with cement production. What became very clear was that in each country, cement has become an essential strategic material. Its availability, its essentiality to the built environment and its cost, internally and in balance of payment terms, is of national importance and to some quite serious extent international business importance as well. It is of course a fact that, apart from water, cement is the most used substance in the world. As for the UK, which, until 1984, was a nett exporter of cement, but by 1987 was a nett importer, maintaining adequate supplies of cement produced within the nation began to prove difficult. One can see why, nationally, Kiln 4 was important in the scheme of things.


9. What also became clear was that the health, safety and welfare of local communities, internationally, is taking second place to the significance that national governments are placing upon cement as a strategic product. It also helped me to understand that senior Labour Party members had been telling the total truth when they warned me, in 1999, that no matter what protests there were against Kiln 4, or how much money was spent on legal actions, Kiln 4 was going to be approved, because it was government policy.


10. There was a feeling, around the time of the Public Inquiry in 2000 that we might struggle to prove the threat to health from Kiln 4, for lack of any proven causal bridge between local illnesses such as asthma or cancer and the cement works. However, all of us on the CANK committee and our many supporters felt strongly that we had a solid case over the massive visual blight that the 361’ tower would be within the Alyn valley. On that score we were strongly supported by a brave planning officer from Flintshire County Council. He came and gave evidence for CANK that the Kiln 4 tower would be a serious visual blot on the rural landscape.


11. When the inspector’s declaration of “equal” appeared, in March of 2002, I was totally inundated with phone calls, letters and emails from supporters and others. They were all quite, quite incredulous about the use of that word. Looking back, one still may reasonably ask the question whether that was a genuinely objective consideration, or merely the application of a form of words that permitted government policy to prevail. Whichever it might have been, it is unlikely that we will ever know. That uncertainty can only harm the reputation of Public Inquiries and public willingness to accept the results as entirely fair and purely evidentially based.


12. Sadly, it was that lack of clear answers that continued to concern CANK’s committee as time passed, as dialogue continued and Kiln 4 began to rise from its foundations.


13. There were publicly accessible records available of the Cancer burden for each electoral ward in Wales. CANK studied those. In simple terms, as most of you will remember, CANK’s evidence showed that while the Alyn Valley displayed a generally lower cancer rate than the UK National Average, the four highest figures were the four wards around Padeswood Cement Works. Suffice to say that the P.I. Inspector preferred the evidence of Dr. Richard Roberts of the North Wales Health Trust who produced a rather complicated set of figures to show that CANK’s evidence was wrong.


14. Subsequently the government declared that the Ward by Ward Cancer Figures were a) unreliable and b) confidential. They removed the data from public record availability.


Another action that raised the eyebrows of many of us most closely involved in trying to clearly establish whether or not any cement works poses a threat to the health of its local community.


15. In continuing with my concern about finding out whether or not we should all be worried about the total of the various and assorted emissions from any cement works, my personal profile in the environmentalist world has grown. Apart from having taken part in public protest marches, I have had the privilege of being asked to speak at public meetings at Swansea, in the Rhondda, in Lancaster, Cheshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Durham and London. In addition, I have found myself invited to Cement Industry dialogue and discussion groups arranged by Dialogue By Design and the Forum for the Future. I now sit on the British Cement Association’s Stakeholder Representative Committee, which meets once or twice a year. I have also become one of the add hoc representatives of Rugby In Plume, occasionally sitting as one of their two representatives on the Cement Liaison Committee in Rugby, where many of the problems of this community with its local cement works are almost identically replicated.


15.1. I became a member of GAIA (Global Alternative to Incineration Alliance way back in 2000. In September of 2007 I was invited as one of 135 delegates from 52 different nations to attend their International Conference in Hondaribia in Spain, where I delivered a paper on co-incineration in cement works.


16. My involvement has been because of a wish to satisfy myself, if possible, about the issue of Public Health in relation to matters of Incineration and Co-incineration, which is what the use of alternative fuels in cement kilns amounts to.


17. To cut a long story short, I am now more concerned than I ever was. That is because I, and others of the core group I associate with, have been misinformed, obstructed, opposed and very possibly lied to, by every government agency we have encountered. From members of the Board of the Environment Agency, to local officials, a worrying lack of transparency has been a common denominator.


18. Everything that I have encountered leads me to firmly believe that the entire system of regulatory control of major industry is predicated by the economic needs of the nation ahead of the protection of the health of the residents of many communities small or large.


19. From self-regulation, through to an absolute minimum of monitoring, through to a system that “averages out” recorded excesses and ignores “fugitive” emissions as though they do not exist and which allows no “counting” of the recorded emissions until a circa 200 tonne per hour raw material throughput is achieved, all conspire to protect industry and the national economy, while discounting any real or perceived threat to the health of ordinary folks living around these sites.


20. My impression, shared with many others in the anti incineration and co-incineration campaign is that we can have a more honest dialogue with many elements of the Cement Industry, which acknowledges that it has much to do before it can claim to be fully environmentally friendly, than we can with the assorted authorities who are supposed to be taking care of us, the community.


21. CANK has, for at least four years, been very concerned about the fact that there has been no truly independent monitoring of any cement works. There were three reasons why we could not, ourselves, begin to look at this essential need. Firstly, with the Public Inquiry over and lost, our major funding ceased. Monitoring machines are expensive items and their ongoing operation and maintenance would have meant a substantial continuing cost that CANK could not afford. Even if we had been able to, the second reason would have stopped us. That being that such an activity had to be fully independent. Had CANK had anything to do with it, any credibility in terms unbiased activity would have been instantly destroyed. The third reason was that CANK would have had to have become an “employer” in order to carry out the continuing monitoring function. That was something that CANK was never designed or intended to be.


22. Into the wide arena of public interest and charitable activity at that time, CANK entered a reasoned argument, representing a need for an independent body unconnected with CANK, the cement industry, or government, to undertake such monitoring. There was nothing more that CANK could do in this regard, except to wait to see if any entity would hear our arguments and respond positively.


23. Meanwhile, you will also not be surprised to learn that several members of the CANK committee decided, during 2003-04, that there was nothing more to be done. That CANK had failed to prevent the planning application for Kiln 4 and failed to stop the use of alternative fuels in its processes is a matter of fact and record. Several members resigned. One even sold up house and home and moved away, such was their conviction of the potential harm that Kiln 4 would cause in future years.


24. However, five of us felt that CANK’s website, which has become an internationally recognized source of information, should remain alive. We also felt that CANK’s campaigning stance would be needed, locally, before very long in order to ensure that at least some critical overview of the cement plant’s activities was maintained in the public interest. Those five were me, my wife Paula as Secretary, Jonathan Coleman, our webmaster, Peter Pemberton, our Treasurer, and Andrew Mack.


25. Time has now proved both the wisdom and perhaps, the courage, of that decision. CANK’s voice on the local cement liaison committee has been a rational, fair but firm one. It has been a steady reminder to both the cement company and the local authorities that there are rules, regulation and conditions that the public expects to be upheld and maintained and not conveniently ignored.


26. April of 2006 saw Castle Cement in court facing 27 counts of exceeding the permitted Dioxin emission levels for the old kilns, 1, 2, & 3.during 2004 and for failing to submit necessary returns to the Environment Agency. My wife and I took the trouble to sit and listen to the half-day process and sentencing. The total of fines and costs of £108,000 would have been higher but for the agreed statement in mitigation. That statement in mitigation was based on an advice statement from the National Public Health Service for Wales. Their declaration was, “It is therefore unlikely that there would be an increased risk of adverse health effects from short term elevated emissions to air of dioxins arising from the Castle Cement Ltd industrial process.”


27. That same document went on to relate “Unfortunately, the local food and environmental monitoring information which is available is too limited to enable a meaningful estimation of the exposure of the local population to dioxins resulting from the emissions to air from Kiln 3 specifically, or the Castle Cement Ltd industrial process generally, during 2004.” Since April, 2006, I have seen no signs at all of any “beefing up” of the environmental monitoring system covering the Castle Cement Works at Padeswood.


28. That NPHS statement of a lack of adequate environmental monitoring agrees with everything that CANK, and others, have said many times. That there is a willful under monitoring of the Padeswood Cement Works by those authorities who should be protective of the public health. Worse still, from where I stand, recent changes towards greater “self-regulation” are merely likely to make matters worse.


29. Thankfully, for the benefit of the public, a charitable organization, “Emission-Watch”, did take note of CANK’s utterings. That very worthy charity commenced a scientifically based monitoring of the Castle Cement Works at Padeswood. If you care to take a look on the web at www.emission-watch.com you will find a whole series of graphs and sets of data relating to the particulate and heavy metal emissions emanating from Padeswood Cement Works and Kiln 4. They make interesting reading.


30. On many occasions, I, and others, have drawn to the notice of the regulators, the fact that heavy emissions appear to be occurring during night time and weekend hours. These observations have been variously denied by Castle Cement and ignored or rubbished by the Environment Agency. However, see for yourselves the assorted graphs now appearing on the Emission-watch web site and take note of the very heavy particulate emissions in the small hours of the night. More recently, even the Environment Agency has set out in writing its own concerns about “evening hours” exceedences of dust emissions emanating from the cement works.


31. CANK’s representatives on the Liaison Committee presented a comprehensive set of the Emission-watch graphs to the committee in November of 2006. We demanded some accounting for the exceedences that were clearly shown. Although they had nothing to say about it on that occasion, the Environment Agency did, two days afterwards, issue a 3-pronged Enforcement Notice on Castle Cement. That notice required attention to the matters of continuing dust emissions, noise and the modernization of the old part of the site, as had been required by the original planning permission granted in 2000. Compliance with those Enforcement Notices is still an ongoing exercise.


32. I will not bore you with any detailed story of the 2006 planning application submitted by Castle for a Hazardous Waste Site within the works boundary. Cement Kiln Dust is, by definition, a hazardous waste. I, on behalf of CANK, submitted a detailed written argument against it. I also gave detailed evidence at the Appeal Inquiry, to support local councilors from Penyffordd and Leeswood who also opposed the application. Local farmers and others also stepped forward to warn of adverse consequences, particularly through the fact that the location chosen for the tip site was in an area known to flood regularly. I regret to say that under control of New Labour, Buckley’s Town Council chose not to display any such opposition. Despite our combined best efforts, permission for the Hazardous Waste Tip on site was approved.


32.1. At the end of January of this year that Hazardous Waste Tip flooded, as we locals said it would. Take a look at the photographs. Fortunately, there has been no CKD dumped in the cells as yet, so the two cells simply became vast swimming pools. Now there is an inquiry by the Environment Agency and the permit to operate the tip has been suspended.


Flooded Tip 1 Flooded Tip 2 Flooded Tip 3 Flooded Tip 4


Images can be enlarged by clicking on them.


33. In the meantime, rest assured that CANK still exists. It is still looking after your interests and those of the public at large. Believe you me, Portland cement production causes problems of all sorts, practically everywhere it gets to.


34. By now, you will be wondering just what can be done about the dust, noise, odour and even light problems created by Padeswood Cement works. That is a question that I have been looking into most carefully over the past three years or more, since it became clear to me that the Environment Agency’s own regulation of the works was doing nothing to abate the continuing nuisances emanating from the works.


35. In June of 2007, I caused the commencement of what is known as a “Group Action” against Castle Cement. That legal action is in respect of the effect of dust, noise, odour and light upon the everyday lives of local residents.


36. If you have suffered from noise, or your car has been regularly “dusted” or even had to be cleaned by a valet service paid for by Castle Cement, or you house, windows, or garden have been or are regularly adversely affected by emissions from the cement works, do please get in touch with me so that a compensation claim can be entered on your behalf as part of the Class Action.


37. There are no fees, no costs and no financial risks. Of that I can and do assure you. Your house, home and savings are entirely safe, should you wish to involve yourself in what I am about. There will be some more public information appearing about this Group Action over the next few weeks, but, if any of you feel that you have been suffering over the years and wish to do something positive about it, this is your chance! Please do get in touch with me. 01244 549421 will reach me. If I am out, just leave your name and phone number on my answer machine and I will get back to you without delay. Alternatively, please email by clicking here.


38. Do please note that this Group Action cannot deal with the health problems of the area. It can only deal with the damage, irritation and loss of amenity caused to you and to your property and possessions.


39. In closing, let me assure past members, and everyone who has supported CANK in so many ways, that although CANK’s committee, for your safety, let your membership lapse, we continue to value, very highly, the support and encouragement that so many of you and other members of the community have given to us, individually and collectively, over the past eight years.


40. CANK is still here, to work for you and the community. I consider myself very privileged to have the opportunity to lead this campaign on behalf of the community


(Cllr) Arnold Woolley, DipIM, MCMI

Chairman, CANK


back to top


Home | News | Biography | Independant Alliance | News | Contact Arnold Woolley | Site Map | Local Affairs | Useful Links