February 16th, 2024.

On Monday Green-led Lewes District Council could become the first local authority in the country to vote in support of a new ‘Zane’s Law’.

The vote will mark the ten-year anniversary of the tragic death of seven-year-old Zane. Zane’s father Kye Gbangbola will be travelling to Lewes to attend the council meeting and hear the debate.

Campaigners say that flood water passing through a nearby disused landfill site caused poisonous Hydrogen Cyanide Gas to leak into Zane’s home in the early hours of the 8th of February 2014, during catastrophic River Thames flooding at Chertsey, in Surrey.

The gas was detected in the family home at high levels by Surrey Fire and Rescue Services on the night of the tragedy. Zane’s father was left paralysed from the same incident with a medical diagnosis of Hydrogen Cyanide poisoning, and is now a wheelchair user.

Ten years on from the tragic death of Zane Gbangbola, ‘Zane’s Law’ proposes measures to address the crisis of contaminated land in the UK, and reinstate regulations removed by successive governments from the 1990 Environment Protection Act.

Councillor Imogen Makepeace, who is proposing the council action, said: “Lewes District Green Party hope that in passing this motion of support for Zane’s Law, our council will be paving the way for more local authorities to take up the call. Many thousands of people live near such potentially dangerous former landfill sites and are entirely unaware of the risks that they pose.”

Elizabeth Mansfield, a local Green Party member who knows the family and has been involved in the campaign for many years said: “Current UK regulations regarding toxic waste disposal and the danger to human life from both historic landfill sites and ‘approved’ landfill sites operating the ‘dry tomb’ principle are dangerously inadequate. Especially so in the face of climate breakdown, with rising sea levels, increased rainfall, and with widespread flooding now commonplace. This law can’t come too soon”

Green Party House of Lords Representative Baroness Natalie Bennett who has campaigned for Zane’s Law said: “This is clearly a problem that affects many people and presents an enormous risk to their lives. Surely, a basic duty of the government is to ensure the security of people in their own homes and it’s great to see the local support for this proposal.”

The Green Party argue there is an urgent need for robust legislation to address a ticking time bomb and Green Party peer Natalie Bennett is leading on ‘Zane’s Law’ in the House of Lords, to protect the safety of people and planet. This would enshrine ‘The human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment’, endorsed by the UN General Assembly (July 2022).
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