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Environmental Law Foundation

Corby judgment: do birth defects mean nothing?

Debbie Tripley


A handful of brave, convinced mothers fought their local council to make it pay for polluting their environment and causing their children birth defects. But has anyone learned anything from this landmark ruling?

Why is it that the recent findings of Judge Akenhead in the Corby case ignited so little shock and rage? 

The case is notable for being what campaigners say is the first in the world to find that airborne pollution could cause certain birth defects. The High Court ruled that Corby Council had been in breach of its statutory duty of care owed to its citizens, and through negligence had caused pregnant women to be exposed to air born toxic substances, which resulted in a cluster of birth defects.

The case dates back to work begun in 1983, when Corby Council embarked on a wholesale campaign of demolition and excavation of a disused steel site.  The Council was undertaking the ‘clean-up’ operation with little or no detailed chemical testing or protection of the public from the dust and movement of chemicals. Unfortunately, the... Read More...

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