On the evening of the second of June, I was invited, as a member of the community liaison group, to visit the site of the old Cranleigh Brick Works, off Knowle Lane, to see part of the ongoing work to control the pollution and re-mediate the land.
Work has currently come close to a halt as the ecologists capture and relocate great crested newts, common lizards, frogs, toads, grass snakes and slow worms to safe areas, away from the bulldozer’s path. You can read more about this on their Cranleigh Blog.
With the huge scale of the problem, the task ahead of the land owners is immense but the on-site team has total confidence that this damaged and polluted site can be brought back to nature, and that the hazardous chemicals and materials there can be managed to limit their effect on the surrounding areas effectively.
Many of the vast derelict buildings will soon be removed and a huge earth cap will be built over the polluted ground, allowing rainfall to be redirected and managed so that it won’t in future carry pollutants into the surrounding countryside. Capturing and holding the unpleasant chemicals where they are is considered to be the best way of managing them.
Although the site looks a terrible mess, I was glad to go with their ecologist to release a toad, many froglets and a common lizard into one of the ponds created to re-home these fragile creatures.
When we first heard of this project, we expressed our concern about the prospect of up to 70 eight wheel tipper trucks a day visiting the site because of the danger of a traffic accident and the damage to the roads. The good news is that so far there have been few problems reported, although lorries are not yet running to full capacity, and the contractors have taken it upon themselves to make ongoing and necessary road repairs, even though it isn’t strictly their responsibility.
I have a sense that they’re keen to work with the local community to make this much needed work run as smoothly as possible. To this end, they’ve provided Cranleigh Rugby Club with new jerseys for their 50 year anniversary to give something back to the area and are currently considering a contribution to Cranleigh Football Club .
I’ve been invited back in the autumn when it’s hoped that the relocation of the reptiles will have been completed and the serious ground works will then be under way.
Cranleigh Civic Society
If you have any queries or concerns about the Cranleigh Brick and Tile works please do get in touch.