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.

 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.