The Corby litigation

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The Corby litigation
  • Actions against regulators/authorities

The Corby litigation

Actions against regulators/authorities

Apart from judicial review of decisions, civil actions are available where loss or damage arises from breach of duty and negligence on the part of public authorities, exemplified by the Corby litigation, which concluded with an out-of-court settlement in April 2010.

Corby arose from remediation of the former steelworks site, used for steelmaking for 60 years and for dumping steelmaking wastes since well before the time of waste regulation. The local authority Corby DC, with enterprise zone status, derelict land grant and EU regional development funding, bought the 270ha site from British Steel in parcels, reclaiming it in several phases over 15 years. After reclamation work was completed, a group of children born between 1985 and 1999 suffered limb reduction defects, mainly missing fingers and clubbed feet. It was claimed that particles from the waste material being moved had been allowed to become airborne over the town and inhaled by the mothers early in the pregnancy, at the time when the babies' limbs were developing. Waste had been transported on public roads in unsheeted lorries, and mud from the wheels had been allowed to track out of the site onto the road surfaces, which, when dried, rose in the air as dusts that blew over the town. The chemicals alleged to be involved included polycyclic aromatic

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