Reading residents raise concern about health impact of gas tower demolition amid Covid 19

Concerns have been raised about the impact of demolishing the Newtown gas tower during the Covid-19 pandemic, as readers respond to the news works to remove the east Reading landmark could begin in early October.

Some have expressed relief at the gas tower being demolished, while others have expressed sadness, with reader Bong Likita saying he is “gutted” that the gas tower will be removed.

Leslee Barron, who campaigned against the plans to replace the gas tower with 130 homes, said the demolition should be delayed.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Strategic Environment and Planning at Reading Borough Council (RBC),said the council will give both the demolition and construction close attention to ensure any impact on residents is minimised.

READ MORE: East Reading gas holder will be demolished and replaced with ‘prison-like’ flats

Ms Barron says the demolition works could affect people with respiratory issues such as asthma and another resident has raised similar concerns. 

The photographer, who created an online exhibition for the landmark earlier this summer for Reading Fringe Festival (, said: “It’s well documented that pollution from contaminated land indirectly affects the respiratory system of human beings.

“Breathing in polluted dust or particles can result in a number of health problems related to the respiratory system.

“The developers have stated in their application that there may be a leakage of dust from the site.

“The site is contaminated. Covid-19 effects the respiratory organs.

“Therefore, those with existing respiratory issues like asthma may be effected by the contaminated dust leaving them susceptible to Covid-19.”

Writing on the council’s planning portal, resident Mary Chambers said: “Given the approach of winter and the current Covid-19 situation, does this really seem the right time to be starting work on contaminated land close to residential areas and right next to two primary schools?

“I understand that pollution from decontamination work can cause respiratory issues, especially in people with asthma and other health conditions. This is not what the residents of Newtown need at the moment.

“How many children will be sent home with coughs and other symptoms from St John’s and New Town primary schools as a result of breathing contaminated air?

“What about other local residents who live close to the site and are already vulnerable to Covid-19 due to asthma and other respiratory issues? Please put public health first and delay the start of this work until a more suitable time.”

Cllr Page, a ward councillor for the area where the gas tower ism said the demolition is “welcome news in taking forward the regeneration of this site”.

READ MORE: Date set for demolition of iconic gas holder – Reading council will have final say

He said the residents that will be impacted by the works all bought flats with the knowledge the gas holder would be developed.

The council’s planning team is now in the process of reviewing the demolition plans and says it will look to ensure that adequate controls are in place to protect the local community during works.

But it says it is not yet in a position to dictate the start date, as it the plans are still subject to prior approval being granted.

Reading Chronicle