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How events have unfolded ( at Tow Law )

By The Journal

April 7: The Ministry of Agriculture pays£4m for the Inkerman site at Tow Law.

April 10: Scores of residents block the entrance to the site to shut workmen out

April 17: The Government pledges not to burn carcases or slaughter animals at Inkerman, but insists mass burial will go ahead

May 2: The first lorries deliver carcases. Dr Bob Dobbie, operations director for the foot-and-mouth centre in Newcastle, says: "None of us would want to have a disposal site beside us but quite frankly this is the best we can find in County Durham.

May 13: Six women are charged with public order offences after clashes outside the site

May 16: Health bosses test river water close to Inkerman, after locals raise safety concerns

May 21. Families in Tow Law promised health screening. Locals complain about the stench from the site

May 31. Firefighters are instructed by their union not to cut free protesters who chain themselves to the gates outside Inkerman, so long as they are not endangering themselves

June 2: Tow Law Town Council chairman Jenny Flynn say a risk assessment carried out on Inkerman was not in accordance with Government guidelines the council calls for its closure pending a public inquiry. Euro MP Stephen Hughes promises to raise the matter with the European Commission

June 15- Government Chief Whip and Durham North West MP Hilary Armstrong angers locals when she appears to reject calls for a public inquiry

July More anger as carcases from North Yorkshire are buried at Inkerman. Calls for the site to be mothballed are ignored

September 3: Locals again react angrily after more carcases are buried. Durham County Council leader Ken Manton calls for the immediate closure of the site, and compensation for the people of Tow Law

October 25. Data released by the Environment Agency from water samples taken near the site show high levels of ammonia and low oxygen levels

Tow Law is a self-contained community high above Weardale and locals like to joke that the weather is either cold or freezing. Until recently it was only the exploits of the local football team which put the 2,000 strong community on the map and three years ago the place was deserted when the town travelled en masse to Wembley to see their heroes lose in the FA Vase Final. In April this year all that changed. The town found itself again the focus of less welcome attention. Tow Law was selected as the location for a foot-and-mouth burial site, uniting the community in a battle which has still to be won. The burial pits at the former Inkerman opencast site were designed to accommodate up to 300,000 carcases. Placed yards from the village school, church and houses, it frightened and angered residents. What is might mean for future generations still does. Nearly 50,000 carcases have already been buried there. The site has been the focus of demonstrations, protests and health scares and the only certainty for the future is that local people are not going to let the matter rest.

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