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Derby - Toxic field to be given all-clear

Children at a primary in Derby could soon start playing football on their school field again, after it was condemned for five years.

Pupils at Becket Primary have not had access to the field because it has been contaminated with lead, but the council has now agreed to make it safe. Unfortunately, the field won't be ready in time for the Fifa World Cup this June, as work on the #163;425,000 renovation will not be finished until the autumn.

The school was built on the site of a former paint factory in 1975, when rules governing contaminated land were not as strict. But since then, regulations have been tightened. When work started on a new children's centre in 2005, contamination levels in the soil were found to be above the acceptable level.

The use of the playing field immediately ceased and, by April 2006, it had been fenced off.

Nine-year-old Andrew Selvi joined the school just as pupils were banned from going on the grass, forcing them to play sports on the playground instead.

He said: "When the field is finished I can practise diving to save the ball in football. I will be a better goalkeeper."

Headteacher Sue James said: "The children are looking forward to using the field for PE and there are plans to use the grounds to support the science curriculum by establishing a wildlife area." IB.

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