Cabinet to consider million pound war chest to fight foul odour nuisance
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council’s Cabinet will consider allotting a £1,000,000 budget to fund a legal case against Walleys Quarry Ltd., the operators of a landfill site that has hit the national headlines in recent months because of foul gases emanating from it.
The funding decision, to be considered at a Special Cabinet meeting next week, comes after Council officers worked tirelessly over the last few months to gather evidence towards a statutory nuisance abatement case against the company, formerly known as RED Industries.
The Leader of the Council, Simon Tagg, said: “This is a significant step for the Council to take. Our residents have suffered for far too long because of the foul gas coming from the landfill and it is clear that the operator is not doing enough to resolve the problem.
“We must now consider stepping in with the only powers the Council have as the local authority to improve the situation but this will involve committing to a potentially hefty financial burden. The Council has already funded specialist advice this year and now we need to consider a further commitment of resources to allow council officers to proceed toward a nuisance abatement notice.”
Council officers have undertaken extensive work to establish whether a statutory nuisance exists, including:
- Regular odour ‘tours’, in and out of hours, to monitor and witness odours
- Working with specimen properties to assess odour in residents’ homes;
- Securing additional air quality monitoring data through joint funding of the four stationary units operated by the EA;
- Commissioning expert analysis of data by air quality consultants;
- Commissioning advice from a landfill expert;
- Analysing more than 750 impact statements provided by the community, through the ‘Stop The Stink Cap It Off’ residents’ group;
- Collecting statements from residents and affected bodies;
- Securing legal advice from Queen’s Counsel.
Despite capping and other corrective measures required by the Environment Agency the foul odours from Walleys Quarry landfill continue to impact on communities and there have been recent warnings about potential long-term health impacts from Public Health England.
Residents in large parts of Newcastle and the surrounding areas have suffered for many months from foul odours emitted from the landfill site and complaints continue to be received in significant numbers.
Air quality monitoring equipment indicates that concentrations of Hydrogen Sulphide in the area remain high.
In taking legal action the Council will rely on legislation around the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the legislation concerned with statutory nuisances in law and covering the Council’s duties and responsibilities relating to odour nuisance. The Act places a duty on a local authority to serve an abatement notice where “a statutory nuisance is identified or considered likely to arise or recur” and, in particular, “…any dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance”.
The Council does not have any powers to suspend, restrict or close operation at the landfill but a successful case of statutory nuisance could lead to the operator of the landfill being prosecuted and fined up to £3 million.
If Cabinet make the decision to allocate the funding at its meeting next week, the Council’s Head of Environmental Health will then determine whether the issues of odour from Walleys Quarry do amount to a Statutory Nuisance before action is taken.
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