Wide-ranging study begins into impact of landfill odours

Published: 15 May 2024

An image of the entrance to Walleys Quarry.
The study will consider different ways in which communities may have been affected.

Communities affected by emissions from a landfill site are to be involved in an independent study detailing their experiences.

Researchers will talk directly to residents, businesses and schools to ask not only how the long-running problems at Walleys Quarry landfill in Newcastle have affected their physical and mental health, but how they may have influenced children’s education, the local economy, community safety, the value of homes and other factors.

Commissioned jointly by a group of public bodies, including Staffordshire County Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, the Environment Agency and UK Health Security Agency, the survey will be carried out by the independent Arcadis Consulting and findings will be published later in the year.

Dr Richard Harling, who has been delegated to lead the project, said:

We are well aware of how this problem has caused health symptoms for some residents and how the persistent foul odour has affected their well-being.

We also want to understand how living with this problem has affected the community in other ways, how it may have affected local schools, businesses, and whether people have struggled to sell their homes since this became national news.

Residents, community groups, schools and businesses will be contacted in coming weeks and there will be a mixture of approaches to explore their experiences and form an independent assessment.”

Complaints over odours coming from the landfill, owned by Walley Quarry Ltd, a subsidiary of Red industries Ltd, rose substantially in the winter of 2020/21 and has remained an issue since.

Focusing on the period 2021-24, researchers will assess data including medical consultations, crime figures and house prices. Also, they will talk to people, representing different parts of the community, individually and in groups.

Dr Harling added:

The sustained nature of this problem is very unusual and it’s possible that some of the consequences are less obvious than others.

The more we know, the more we can press Government for help in dealing with hidden issues in the community.”

In addition to conversations with the wider community, the Arcadis research team would like to establish a small steering committee comprising members of the community, with whom they can have more detailed discussions about potential impacts of the landfill site. If you would like to be involved please contact WQstudy@arcadis.com .