Residents who feared they would have to pay a six figure bill for the removal of hazardous waste around their homes have been given a reprieve.
The Scottish Government has pledged up to £300,000 cleaning up lead and arsenic deposits from the grounds of homes in Blanefield, matching cash already pledged by the UK government and Stirling Council and covering the clean-up bill.
Finance secretary John Swinney made the announcement as he visited residents this week.
Traces of lead and arsenic were found in the grounds of the properties, which were built on the site of a former Victorian calico print works, during a routine sample of land by Stirling Council in 2012.
Half of the £600,000 bill was made up by landfill tax, currently levied by the UK government.
Mr Swinney said: “It is inexcusable that residents affected by the contaminated land have not only had to worry about the risks to their health but they have had to live in fear of being held financially responsible for the cost of the removal of the waste.
“That’s why we have now pledged up to £300,000 to help residents meet the costs of cleaning up this contaminated land.
“Landfill tax and the decision to exempt disposals of contamination is currently a matter for Westminster.
“If the UK Government waived the tax costs associated with the clean-up when the lead and arsenic was first discovered, residents would not have had such an ordeal.
“The Scottish Government is already taking steps to ensure that once landfill tax is transferred to Scotland other residents cannot find themselves in this situation.
“I now hope our contribution means the hazardous waste can be removed in a timely fashion, and people in Blanefield can get on with their lives.”
Blanefield resident Martin McGougan said: “A weight has been lifted off our shoulders today.
“The last two years have been very stressful for me and the 12 other neighbours involved.
“We’ve had huge bills that we’ve had no ability to pay hanging over our heads and it’s been a terrible financial and emotional burden for us.
“The Scottish Government’s fantastic contribution means that for the first time in two years we can take our lives off pause and get on with normal life again.
“We are absolutely delighted with the Scottish Government’s contribution of up to £300,000.
“It’s a huge amount of money to us and means all the work can now be done. This excellent result is the culmination of us campaigning and working with Stirling Council, residents within the affected areas, the Strathblane Community Council and our local MSP Bruce Crawford who has championed our cause since the beginning.”