Row erupts over 'extremely toxic' racetrack plan amid fears it poses threat to humans

A ROW has erupted over an allegedly 'extremely toxic' racetrack that poses a potential threat to humans.

Southwell Racecourse in Nottinghamshire – one of the UK's busiest tracks – wants to change its sand-based surface to an artificial one.

But a planning application made to the council by Arena Racing Company [ARC] has been met with fierce resistance.

And the town's council have for now rejected plans to change.

Residents have raised concerns over the 'toxicity' of the proposed tapeta surface – widely used on racetracks around the world.

And others feared chemicals in the surface could seep into the water supply.

Chairman of the planning committee Peter Scorer said: "I didn’t think this would be a problem until I read the small print explaining what it was made from.

"I did a bit of research online, which quickly established in my mind that ethylene [a gas] is toxic, even to humans."

Committee member David Martin said: "The issues revolve around whether it is extremely toxic – but you don’t have to go very deep into Google to find that it is toxic.

"It leaks into water courses, and with rainfall it will leak out into the land around it.

"It comes from America, and it they (ARC) are saying if it is good enough for America it is good enough for us."

Another, Russell Jones, said: "The deliberate introduction of such vast quantities of plastic material into an area well known for flooding and run off into local watercourses and then the main river system is unconscionable.

"It is clear and obvious that the transfer of the polyethylene material will occur into the surrounding water system and the placement of such material at this site will have serious and direct consequences on the local and eventually national aquatic environment.

"Nothing in the available planning material deals with how this plastic material will be contained, adequately or at all, within the site, nor can it as it is a free substance simply mixed with 'sand and fibre'."

Tapeta has been in place at Wolverhampton Racecourse since 2014 and at Newcastle since 2016.

It was developed by Michael Dickinson and he strongly denied the claims, telling the Racing Post: "Councillor Scorer’s comment after a Google search in relation to Tapeta was mistaken.

"Tapeta is safe based on the proof of solid evidence produced by a range of expert research chemists and on careful environmental monitoring.

"Tapeta does not wash into the wider environment and does not, from the analysis scrutinised, contain ethylene.

"Tapeta has been thoroughly tested for 14 years around the world with no problems.

"It is safe for jockeys, horses, maintenance ground staff and the wider environmental issues."

Southwell chiefs remain confident the change will go ahead ahead of a final decision at the end of next month.

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