The home of a former Russian spy is to be dismantled, with the roof completely removed by military teams in the wake of the Novichok attack as decontamination work continues.

Wiltshire Council has written to neighbours of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, warning them of the disruption the deep clean and construction work – expected to take up to four months – will cause.

Detectives believe the pair first came into contact with the poison when it was sprayed on the door handle of their property in Christie Miller Road, Salisbury.

The clean-up has been taking place ever since they collapsed on March 5, but work paused over Christmas.

Salisbury house
Contractors outside the home of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury (Ben Birchall/PA)

The next, more extensive phase of the operation was due to begin on January 7, according to a letter seen by the Press Association.

Dated January 4 and signed by the council’s director of public of health, Tracy Daszkiewicz, it told residents that contractors would spend the first month erecting scaffolding to cover the house and garage with a “sealed frame”.

A military team will then dismantle and remove the roofs on the two buildings over two weeks.

Everything will be wrapped and sealed before being removed from the site, and then the roofs will be replaced, Ms Daszkiewicz said.

Amesbury incident
Yulia Skripal (PA)

The letter said: “This phase includes the removal of the house roof and garage roof at No 47 (Christie Miller Road).

“All materials will be wrapped and sealed on site before being removed safely from the premises.

“Once the covered frame is in place, the deconstruction work is expected to take around two weeks.

“This specialist work will be carried out by the military team.

“When that work is completed, contractors will move on site to build a replacement roof for the house and adjoining garage.”

She said the risk to public health remains “low”, adding: “The priority is to make sure that the two remaining sites affected by the 2018 incidents are thoroughly cleaned and returned to normal use as soon as possible.”

Mr Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter survived the attack which Prime Minister Theresa May said had “almost certainly” been approved by the Russian state.

Wiltshire Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey is also thought to have come into contact with the poison when he searched their home.

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Dawn Sturgess died after being exposed to nerve agent Novichok (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill in Amesbury months after the incident and died in hospital in July after coming into contact with a perfume bottle believed to have been used in the attack on the Skripals and then discarded.

Her partner, Charlie Rowley, 45, was also exposed to the same nerve agent but was treated and discharged.

Two Russian nationals have been accused of travelling to the UK to try to murder Mr Skripal with Novichok.

Evidence gathered by intelligence agencies led the Government to conclude that the men were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, the GRU.

The two suspects – known by their aliases

CCTV image of Russian nationals Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov
CCTV image of Russian nationals Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov on Fisherton Road, Salisbury (Metropolitan Police/PA)
and Ruslan Boshirov – were caught on CCTV in Salisbury the day before the attack.

A counterfeit Nina Ricci perfume bottle – which Ms Sturgess handled – is thought to have contained the substance.

The decontamination project is being led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) but military teams will carry out the work, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said.

This will be the same team involved in the clean-up so far, from the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear unit, he added.

Defra said focusing on removing the roofs was just part of their “highly precautionary”, extensive and meticulous work on the property.

A spokesman said no further detail could be provided on the plan for disposal, other than that it would be carried out “safely”.

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Contractors erect scaffolding behind the home of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury (Ben Birchall/PA)

In a statement he added: “Work to decontaminate the site at Christie Miller Road has resumed and will continue over the coming months.”

“In line with our thorough approach to decontamination, specialist teams are working inside and outside the property.

“External scaffolding is being erected in early January to allow access for work on the house roof and garage roof. The roof will be removed during the decontamination process.

“We are working with the site owner, Wiltshire Council and other partners to ensure that the house will be fully repaired and returned to a fit state to live in.”