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Lead pellets: health hazard fears in Dengrove Wood, Sturry

By Gerry Warren

There are fears that hundreds of potentially poisonous lead pellets found on a public footpath through woods could be part of a much wider health hazard in the area.

The shot was discovered recently by parish councillors at Sturry who were walking through Dengrove Wood.

A stretch of path up to 40 metres is carpeted with the pellets and they are thought to have been exposed after rainfall washed away the top surface, before the recent snowfall.

Lead pellets found on the Den Grove footpath at Sturry
Lead pellets found on the Den Grove footpath at Sturry

But parish councillor Ashley Mills fears it is only a fraction of the contamination - thought to be because of decades of use by the neighbouring shooting ground.

“Lead is known to be very poisonous if ingested so it is a significant health risk to children and pets using the path as well as potentially polluting the nearby river and proposed new wetland,” he said.

“I have reported it to the Environment Agency and Kent County Council, which is responsible for footpaths.”

Dr Mills, who is a public health data scientist at the centre for health services studies at the University of Kent, believes a much wider area of the ancient woodland and surrounding land could be contaminated.

“I think there could be tonnes of lead in the ground given the long historical use of the site,” he said.

The area has been used as a shooting venue by Greenfields since the 1970s and continues to be so, although much of the land has now been sold to a developer for housing.

No one from Greenfields was available for comment.

A cloe-up of the lead pellets
A cloe-up of the lead pellets

But Mr Mills says an environmental report commissioned in connection with the planned development has picked up on lead pollution in the ground which he believes is a serious issue which will have to be addressed.

The report says there is “high potential risks via dermal [touching], ingestion and/or inhalation from contaminated shallow soil.”

A spokesman for KCC, Murray Evans, said: “We have received a report of the issue and will inspect the site when next in the area and remove the pellets if necessary.”

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