Council escalates formal complaint about Walleys Quarry regulation

Published: 14 March 2022

Formal complaint regarding the EA's regulation of Walleys Quarry to be escalated to ombudsman.

The Leader of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Simon Tagg, is going to escalate the Council’s formal complaint about the Environment Agency’s handling of the Walleys Quarry landfill site to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The Council’s Chief Executive, Martin Hamilton, had sent a formal complaint to Sir James Bevan, the Chief Executive Officer of the Environment Agency, to express the Council’s serious concerns about its failure to adequately regulate the Walleys quarry landfill site. The escalation announced today is a reaction to the response received.  

The Leader of the Council said: “We made a formal complaint to Sir James Bevan, more than a month ago now, about the scandalous ongoing situation at Walleys Quarry. The reply we have received does nothing to address any of the issues raised.

“The key point in our letter - that the EA’s regulation approach is not bringing about any significant improvements and is taking too long in any case – has been largely ignored. Sir James seems to be saying that the EA is doing everything that it can and we should just carry on as we are. He even points out to us, as if we need to be told: ‘All landfill sites, even the best managed and most tightly regulated, smell sometimes.’ Not like Walleys Quarry, they don’t! Just ask our residents.

“This is quite simply not good enough. The residents of this borough, the town’s businesses and the patients and staff at the UHNM hospital over the border with Stoke have tolerated gas stink from this site for more than twelve months now and, unbelievably, we are still in the same situation as we were in last year. The emissions are at the same levels, the obnoxious odours are still blighting the community and affecting people’s daily lives. How can that be acceptable?

“I think it is significant that Sir James states in his reply that he visited the site last November. He didn’t let the Council know that he was making a visit, despite the concerns we have raised publicly, and he didn’t ask to meet with us. It is now very clear that he just doesn’t want to hear what we have to say.

“It doesn’t seem that Sir James Bevan has authorised or enacted any investigation into the EA’s regulation of the site - to see whether everything IS being done - or that any review of the EA’s handling of the situation has been carried out in response to our concerns. It seems, actually, that Sir James tries to deflect legitimate criticisms away from the EA and on to those organisations based locally which, in fact, have absolutely no regulatory power whatsoever over the landfill.

“As a result of this totally inadequate response, and the abject failure of the Environment Agency to bring about any real improvements in over a year of supposedly ‘intense’ regulation of the Walleys Quarry landfill site, it is my intention to escalate this matter to the next level possible, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. This will be done through the Member of Parliament for Newcastle, Aaron Bell, and I will be speaking to him as soon as I can to move this forward.”

The request for the Chief Executive of the Council to write a formal letter of complaint to the CEO of the Environment Agency was made at the Council’s Cabinet meeting in February.

Copies of the following letters can be downloaded:

  • The letter from Martin Hamilton, CEO of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council.
  • The letter from Sir James Bevan, CEO of the Environment Agency.
  • The letter from Council Leader Simon Tagg to MP Aaron Bell.

The number of complaints from residents and businesses about the foul odours coming from the Walleys Quarry landfill site remains high.

The recorded levels of Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) emitted from the site are above the World Health Organisation’s permitted levels at various times during most weeks.