Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 12:55 UK

Asbestos warship legal bid fails

The Clemenceau was built in 1957

A redundant French warship contaminated with asbestos can be dismantled on Teesside, a court has ruled.

Residents have fought to stop Able UK scrapping the Clemenceau at Hartlepool dock claiming it posed a health risk.

They mounted a challenge but failed and the High Court has now ruled the ship, which contains 700 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated material, can be scrapped.

Protestors had said that ports in other countries should have been considered. Able UK welcomed the move.

Cancer survivor Jean Kennedy, of Waldon Street, Hartlepool, spearheaded the campaign claiming the Health and Safety Executive was wrong to grant Able a waste certificate.

But barrister for Able, Gerard Clarke, insisted that the Clemenceau would not pose a danger as strict rules and regulations would be followed.

Mr Clarke also argued that Able had already been the subject of much "public scrutiny", the hearing in London heard.

The 32,700-tonne aircraft carrier, which was once the pride of the French navy, is currently berthed in France after being brought back from India in 2006.

Ghost ships

Able UK caused an outcry five years ago when it brought four rusting US "ghost ships" to the UK.

After years of legal wrangling, it won planning permission and a waste management licence to allow it to break up ships at its Graythorpe facility.

Able Chairman and Chief Executive, Peter Stephenson, said: "I am pleased that the High Court comprehensively rejected the latest attempt to see further public money spent on funding yet another legal challenge based entirely on misrepresentation and scaremongering.

"I hope that today does prove a watershed in ending the campaign of distortion and disinformation which has cost so much not just for our company, but for the local economy and local employment."

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