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Scrutiny inquiry to take place over complaints about landfill site smell

A scrutiny process is being set up by Newcastle Borough Council to look at issues relating to a landfill in Silverdale.

Residents believe Walleys Quarry site it is the source of a smell in the town.

More than 100 complaints have been lodged with the council.

Locals have held a public meeting to discuss their concerns, and a Facebook group has been set up called 'Stop The Stink.'

RED Industries, who operate the site, have previously said they are committed to operating to the highest standards and working positively with their neighbours and the Environment Agency, including conducting odour checks in the local area.

Councillors are to visit the site this month before holding a scrutiny inquiry where all key stakeholders – including RED Industries - will be invited to make representations to elected members.

Cllr. Trevor Johnson, the Cabinet member responsible for environment and recycling, said: “At Full Council last November, it was suggested that a report by our environmental health team would be drawn up with information on current issues which are giving the community cause for concern.

“The scrutiny process can provide a structured and publicly accessible forum with the aim of achieving a number of outcomes such as hearing about residents’ concerns, how the site is managed and the Environment Agency’s monitoring arrangements.

“At this stage our environmental health investigations have shown that whilst odours have been detected and are likely to cause annoyance, the issues raised do not meet the threshold for a statutory nuisance abatement action to be taken.”

The assessment of a statutory nuisance involves consideration of a range of criteria such as how often a nuisance occurs and how long it lasts; the nature of the nuisance and the effects on the reasonable use and enjoyment of premises.

Cllr. Johnson said that even if the Council was in a position to take statutory nuisance abatement action, it would not be in a position to close the site or bring activities to a halt.

The scrutiny process will be led by Cllr. Gary White, Chair of the Economy, Environment and Place Scrutiny Committee.

Cllr. White said: “This will be an opportunity for councillors to hear from everyone involved in this issue. As community leaders we are clearly conscious of the complaints voiced by residents and we want to hear from them in person as well as everyone else with an interest in the situation including RED Industries RM Limited, who operate the landfill site, and the Environment Agency, who are the regulator.

"The scrutiny process will be a fair and transparent process and an opportunity for all concerned to make their voices heard. Hopefully elected members will then be able to come up with recommendations which can be examined further.

“The Council has a variety of roles to fulfil and one is to investigate and respond to complaints received from the public and we have had quite a number of those during the last 12 months.”

The Environment Agency is responsible for regulating the operation of the landfill site in Cemetery Road, Newcastle, via a permit. The landfill was initially given planning permission by Staffordshire County Council.

The Borough Council’s ongoing investigations around Walleys Quarry are completely separate from the proposed scrutiny process.

Recently the Council – as a statutory consultee – responded to the Environment Agency (EA) on an application made by RED to vary the environmental permit under which the EA regulates operations at the landfill.

The application seeks to increase the amount of waste RED can import on to the site from 250,000 tonnes per year to 400,000 tonnes.

Once the site visit by councillors has taken place this month, the Council will announce details of where and when the scrutiny meeting will actually take place to hear from all of those involved in the debate surrounding the landfill operation.

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