Asbestos weighing the same as a baby elephant has been cleared from Prestwick beach. And more is on the way, say council chiefs battling to plug an environmental horror.
An incredible 80 kilos of the potentially lethal fibres were discovered on the shore during its week-long shutdown, the Daily Record has revealed.
The revelation comes as council bosses face flak over the alleged source of the contamination at Newton Shore. Residents in Prestwick claim the local authority is running from the problem over cost implications.
It comes as a warning was issued that further asbestos is likely to crash ashore.
Jim Ronney, who chairs Prestwick North Community Council, said:
“How long are we going to dance around this problem? The council has been warned about the worsening condition of Prestwick beach for years and now, more than ever, we need action.”
The long-held theory says that breached sea defences at a landfill site in Ayr has created a pile up of bricks and rubble three miles down the coast. It’s a theory that council bosses have so far refused to confront, causing widespread anger in Prestwick.
Community council member Mike Tomlinson, whose asbestos discovery put the shore on lockdown, said:
“The council has clear responsibilities when it comes to the beach. But it seems they’re too busy ignoring what’s staring them in the face.”
Prestwick councillor Hugh Hunter denied that officials were avoiding a potential ugly truth at Newton, which could lead to a costly headache. He said:
“There is no silver bullet for this problem. We need to get past all of the negativity surrounding the beach – it is time to move forward and get behind those who are trying to find a solution.”
It’s understood the offer of an independent report on Prestwick beach, carried out by a marine expert at Glasgow University, is set to be taken up by the council.
But residents fear that is merely kicking the problem into the long grass yet again. Beach boss Mike Newall said:
“We need to know exactly what needs to be done and how much it will cost before we can move forward. And, more importantly, we need to understand what the outcomes are likely to be so we can, as far as possible, take forward plans that will resolve the problem in the longer-term.
We’ve previously gone down the ‘trial clean’ route, spending around £20,000 in spring 2015 to clean up the beach and, just over a year later, we’re dealing with the same problem again. That’s not something we can sustain. We want to identify the best possible solution, in line with available resources, and that’s what we’re working to achieve.”