Woodhall Spa - Contaminated Land

This page is to keep the community and interested parties up to date with our work, and that of our partners, following the recent discovery of Mustard Gas in woodland at Kirkby Lane, Woodhall Spa. Our role (with partners) is to ensure the site, which is contaminated land, is safe for people and the environment.

Update May 16, 2018

The remediation works at the Roughton Moor site have been completed by colleagues from the Ministry of Defence (MOD). 

During these works the site was investigated by specialist units from the Army and all traces of Mustard Gas, and other munitions, were removed from the site. The contaminated material was analysed in MOD laboratories and disposed of safely. The on-site security and fencing will now start to be removed from Wednesday, 16 May, 2018.

Over the coming months, as part of our wider site survey work, it is possible that you will still continue to see colleagues from the Council and other agencies working in the area. We will be in touch again if we need to access your land as part of this work.

We're aware that this has been a prolonged operation and as such we'd like to thank you for your patience and cooperation throughout the process.

Update April 27, 2018

We are currently waiting for the Ministry of  Defence to carry out a final inspection of the site. The inspection and the removal of the security fencing may require a further road closure.

We are nearing completion of this project. Thank you all, for bearing with the restrictions and road closures.

Update March 16, 2018

Following the recent postponement of clean-up works at the Roughton Moor site as a result of other national priorities, colleagues at the Ministry of Defence have now confirmed that they will commence the project on Monday, 16th April, 2018.

In order to facilitate this operation a road closure will be in place on Kirkby Lane from the evening of Sunday, 15 April, 2018, for an anticipated time period of two weeks. Once this has been completed we will be in a position to consider the removal of the fencing and security personnel from the site.

Update March 12, 2018

We have been advised that the revised start date for the Phase 2 works on site by the Ministry of Defence will be 16 April 2018 for (up to) a two week period.  These works will be accompanied by a road closure on Kirby Lane.  As always, this revised start date is wholly dependent upon there being no other calls on the MoD's resources at that time.

Update March 9, 2018

The Ministry of Defence team, who were due to complete the final phase of clean up works on site, are currently required elsewhere in the country. As such the work planned for next week will be delayed for an estimated 1-2 weeks.

The planned road closure on Kirkby Lane in Woodhall Spa will be lifted and rearranged for when the MOD are on site.

Update March 6, 2018

Colleagues from the Ministry of Defence have arranged to complete the final phase of clean up works on site. This work involves identifying and removing debris from the site in the location where the Mustard Gas was discovered.

For the works to be completed a road closure on Kirkby Lane in Woodhall Spa will be necessary and this is expected be in place from 11 March 21:00 to 23 March 21:00, though this may end earlier if the works are concluded ahead of schedule. Whilst all traces of Mustard Gas have now been removed from the site, MOD operatives on site will be using full chemical weapon protective equipment as a precautionary measure.

Whilst works are being completed we will maintain the security measures on site; once works have been completed we will review the security arrangements.

Update February 14, 2018 

As previously confirmed, all traces of the Mustard agent canisters and contents have been removed from the site and tests have confirmed that there has been no associated contamination left behind.

Since that time we have maintained the onsite security arrangements, funded by the Ministry of Defence, until the next phase of works to identify and remove any other debris from the immediate vicinity can be completed.

It is currently planned for this work to be undertaken during March and you are likely to become aware of some on-site activity at this time.  This timescale is subject to the specialist MoD team not being required to respond to any emergency situations at that time. In the meantime it has been agreed that we will maintain the security arrangements on site.

Update February 6, 2018

We're currently working with the Ministry of Defence and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust towards the final stages of site clear-up. Further information will be available as this operation progresses.

Update January 16, 2018

We have now received the results from the water and soil sampling undertaken by the MOD's Scientific Testing Laboratories (DSTL). Over 200 samples were taken and all have come back clear of mustard gas and other chemical weapon contaminants.

Some works on the site, such as filling in the trenches and removing equipment, still need to be undertaken before the site can be returned to the owners. Until these works are complete fencing and a security patrol will remain on site.   We will update the community further in due course.

Phase 2 of the wider site investigation is now underway. Phase 2 focuses on mapping and identifying potential ordnance and other ground based features on former MOD land in this area of Woodhall Spa. Phase 2 is currently a 'desktop' study but as the work progresses site visits will be needed and further road closures may be necessary to allow the equipment and vehicles to come on site safely.

Update January 3, 2018

Results from the soil sampling undertaken by the MOD's Scientific Testing Laboratories haven't yet been received, however, we have been informed they will be available shortly. Once the results have been received we'll inform the community of the outcome and whether any further decontamination is required.  If the results show the contamination has been successfully removed, we expect to be able to hand the site back to the relevant landowners.

Our Environmental Health Team and the MOD are presently working on a plan to commence Phase 2 of the site investigation, which focuses on mapping and identifying potential ordnance and other ground based features on former MOD land in this area of Woodhall Spa. This phase of investigation is being led by the MOD.

At present the site where the Mustard Gas was found remains fenced  with a security patrol present on site. We continue to ask residents to avoid this woodland area of the village.

Update December 19, 2017

Analysts from the DSTL have undertaken tests on the soil, as part of their decontamination of the site where the Mustard Gas was found. The results are currently being correlated and this process cannot be rushed.

Once all the results have been correlated they will be communicated with the public. Security will remain on site until we can be sure that there is no risk to the public.

Update December 14, 2017

The results from the soil sampling by DSTL, as part of their decontamination of the site where the Mustard Gas was found, are expected to be received in the coming days.  As such, the security presence remains in place on the site at this time to prevent public access and we continue to ask residents to avoid the woodland.   Once the results are received, we will arrange to meet with the owners of the land in the vicinity of the Mustard Gas find.

The Ministry Of Defence is expected to commence survey work on the wider site shortly to search for any further spent ordnance. Please be assured that the above reference to 'spent ordnance' does not suggest any intelligence of the presence of further Mustard Gas at the site, but understandably this can not be ruled out at this stage. The wider site is the footprint of the former military camp.  As a precaution this work will be undertaken by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team (AKA Bomb Disposal).  Please don't be alarmed if you see their vehicles in the area! It is likely, due to the equipment/vehicles needed for this work, there will be the need for a further road closure to be put in place. At the moment we don't know specific dates for a road closure.

Update 5 December, 2017 (4.30pm)

Following the investigation work undertaken by DSTL between November 20 and 25 we are awaiting the results of the soil sampling.  Meanwhile the security presence and fencing will remain on the site as a precautionary measure and we continue to ask the community to avoid the woodland.

Further updates will be provided once the results of the soil samples are received.

Update 28 November, 2017 (2pm)

The location where the Mustard Gas canisters were found has now been searched and surveyed for Mustard Gas contamination by a specialist unit from the Ministry of Defence (MOD). This investigation took place between 20 November and 25 November.  Whilst some traces of Mustard Gas agent was identified in the soil as expected, no additional chemical weapons (including vapour) were found on the site.  Any soil found to be contaminated with the Mustard Gas agent was removed from the site during the works for safe disposal at the Porton Down facility (MOD base).  

In total 2 to 3 tonnes of soil were removed and over 200 soil samples have been taken for analysis.  The specialist team will share the results of the soil sampling with the Council in order that we can be assured that all traces of contamination have been removed before the site is formally handed back to the relevant landowners. 

The results of the soil sampling are likely to be received within the next week or so.  Meanwhile the security presence and fencing will remain on the site as a precautionary measure. At present, we continue to ask the community to avoid the woodland.    The investigation team from the MOD did find some spent ordnance on the site, which is being removed.

Once we have received the results from the soil sampling we will write to nearby residents to provide a further update of the latest position.

The specialist team have provided these photographs of their work between November 20 and 25, 2017.

Clearance Works   Clearance Works 1   Clearance Works 2   Clearance Works 3   Clearance Works 4

Update - 24 November 2017 (3.30pm)

Kirkby Lane, Woodhall Spa - Road re-opening

Kirkby Lane, Woodhall Spa will re-open to traffic after 1pm on Saturday November 25 following the removal of contaminated soil from the Roughton Woods site.

Security will remain in place on site until DSTL confirms the completion of their work on site.

We'd encourage the community not to access the Woodland at this time.


Update - 15 November 2017 (3pm)

Road closure - Kirkby Lane, Woodhall Spa

Kirkby Lane, Woodhall Spa will be closed to traffic from the junction of the B1191 Horncastle Road from November 20 until 25 (1pm) to allow the decontamination of an area of Roughton Woods following the recent discovery of Mustard Gas.  Access for residents of Kirkby Lane will remain available.

Whilst the Mustard Gas canisters have been removed, there remains some contamination in the soil on the site that needs to be removed and disposed of.  This work will be led by the Ministry of Defence.

The road closure is necessary for the safety of those working on the site and the wider community.

Update - 3 November 2017 (3.30pm)

A number of people have asked about the decontamination that will take place at the affect area of woodland.

DSTL will do an initial sampling of the area to determine the extent of the contamination. They will then remove any contaminated soil. Any artefacts or munitions related to chemical weapons will also be removed. These items and the soil will be taken to Dstl at Porton Down where they will be incinerated.

Experts will also undertake some sampling of soil, particularly on the walkways, after the clearing has been completed to ensure the process has been successful.

DSTL are the only licensed facility in the country who are able to safely dispose of chemical weapons.

DSTL will not be removing any trees so there will be no change to the landscape of the woods.

Update - 1 November 2017 (3pm)

Yesterday, we met with partner agencies to continue discussions about the decontamination of the affected area of the site following more detailed work on the process to be followed.  Works remain planned to start in November and will be undertaken by DSTL, which is part of the Ministry of Defence.  Security and fencing remains onsite and we continue to ask people to stay away from the woodland area.

Update - 24 October 2017 (10.45am)

We have been working closely with the Ministry of Defence's Defence and Scientific Testing Laboratory (DSTL) in Porton Down on the best approach to remove the contamination from the soil in the woodland area where Mustard Gas was recently discovered.  

DSTL has confirmed to us that they wish to undertake the remediation themselves using their own in-house specialists.  Whilst the precise date of the work is still to be confirmed, it is expected that it will start during November. Until the works are completed the site will remain fenced with a security presence in place. 

The community is asked to continue avoiding the woodland at this time. 

Update - 19 October 2017  (11am)

Video update from Chief Executive Stuart Davy


Refuse collections Update - 16 October 2017 (5pm)

Our refuse crews visited Kirkby Lane today to empty the wheeled bins that couldn't be reached on Friday due to the road closure.

Decontamination of the site where the Mustard Gas was found

We have today met with the Ministry of Defence to discuss the decontamination process and the next steps.

In the meantime, an area within the woodland remains fenced with a security presence in place.

We are asking the community to continue avoiding the woodland at this time.

We thank the community for their continued patience.

This photograph shows some of the teams on site last week.  It was taken by Inspector Baker of Lincolnshire Police.

Roughton Woods

Update - 13 October 2017 (1pm)

Latest update from Superintendent Phil Vickers, who hands over the recovery phase of the incident to Stuart Davy, the District Council's Chief Executive.

Bin Collections - Kirkby Lane, Woodhall Spa

Due to the Police corden, we apologise we have not been able to collect bins from some properties on Kirkby Lane. Please present bins on Monday October 16 when our crews will revisit to collect.

Update - 13 October 2017 (11.30am)

Thank you to those who attended the meeting last night at the Petwood Hotel.  We hope you found the content useful/helpful. 

The community is asked to avoid the woodland area concerned and it remains cordoned off at this time.  There is still a need for the area where the ammunition was found to be fully decontaminated, although the items found on site have been safely removed from site.  The site is safe if left undisturbed but an area will be fenced off (with a security presence) for a period of time whilst site surveys and decontamination takes place.  Don't be concerned by this.  We will only be fencing a relatively small area.

The Police have provided this photograph of one of the canisters recovered from Stixwould lake by Royal Navy divers.  The lake has now been handed back to the owner and no contamination was found - all 10 canisters were recovered and are intact.

Mustard Gas Canister

Mustard Gas Canister

BBC Look North broadcast on 12 October

Update - 10 October, 2017


I'd like to invite you to attend a public meeting to be held at the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa on the evening of Thursday, October 12, 2017, at 6.30pm, to update the community in regard to the recent discovery of Mustard Gas in woodland off Kirkby Lane.

At the meeting the Army, Police and District Council will all provide updates and details of next steps in addressing the issue of contaminated land.

There will also be the chance for you to ask questions.  If attendance on the evening is greater than the room's capacity (120) we may run more than one meeting that evening (one after another).

I do hope you can attend the meeting and look forward to seeing you on the evening.

Yours faithfully,

Stuart Davy
Chief Executive


On Sunday October 1 a number of canisters were found by people bottle digging in an area known as Ostler Plantation in Roughton Woods, Woodhall Spa. The items were removed and tests at the scene indicated that the area should be considered safe to re-open to the public. The canisters were  sent to Porton Down, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, to identify what they contained and it was latterly confirmed that the substance inside contained Mustard Gas. As soon as this was confirmed the area was cordoned off (on Tuesday 3 October) as a matter of public safety.

Nobody has been seriously injured; two people who found the canisters were taken to hospital the next day and received treatment for burns and minor respiratory problems, but they later returned home. 

Three people were arrested in connection with this incident on suspicion of possession of a noxious substance. They have since been released on police bail and remain so until 25 October.

A number of areas have been searched in connection with this inquiry, including areas of Longdales Road and locations in Stixwould. Work is still ongoing to ensure that these areas are completely safe before they are reopened to the public.