A Cornwall development company has been fined £4,500 for failing to undertake a survey for the presence of dangerous asbestos fibres at a demolition site in Perranporth.

Norwegian Homes Limited was responsible for demolishing the former Cellar Cover Hotel at Droskyn Point, in Perranporth in July 2006, which was being converted into guesthouses and holiday apartments.

During a visit to the site, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered suspected asbestos insulation boards underneath a caravan, in polythene sacks and in the ashes of a bonfire. The samples were later confirmed as containing asbestos at the Health and Safety Laboratory.

Truro Magistrates Court heard how there were no measures in place to properly remove the asbestos-containing material, nor were there any protections in place for staff working on the site.

Norwegian Homes of Cligga Head Industrial Estate, St George’s Hill, Perranporth pleaded guilty on 26 May 2010 to breaching Regulation 15 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002. As well as the fine, the company was also ordered to pay £11,959 in costs.

HSE inspector, Martin Lee, said:
“Asbestos is extremely harmful to human health and is the most serious occupational health issue in the country. More than 4,000 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases.

“Norwegian Homes should have carried out a survey for the presence and quantity of asbestos in the building, prior to demolition.

“This incident was entirely preventable and the clean-up costs far outstripped the costs of a survey and safe removal of the asbestos material.”