Die Environment Agency has launched an investigation into alleged illegal waste activities at a landfill in Staffordshire which has plagued residents with noxious fumes for months.
People living next to Walleys Quarry landfill in Silverdale, Newcastle-under-Lyme, are facing misery from strong smells caused by high levels of hydrogen sulphide on the site.
The EA said it had launched a formal investigation into the landfill operators, Red Industries, after receiving new information in October. The company denies breaking any regulations.
Campaigners hailed the news as an “early Christmas present” and a milestone in their fight for better air quality, although many said they felt an investigation was long overdue. “All we want is the truth. But we won’t take the pressure off the EA yet because we actually need to see the results, we won’t just accept platitudes,” said Dr Mick Salt, a resident and radiation physicist.
The Newcastle-under-Lyme MP, Aaron Bell, gesê: “I welcome this formal investigation and I would like to thank all the sources that have come forward over the past year. This is just one step, and it is important for legal reasons not to prejudice or prejudge this investigation. Egter, I know the community will welcome this development.”
Campaigners were dealt a blow last week when the EA won an appeal over a high court case that found it was not doing enough to control the landfill emissions that were shortening the life expectancy of a five-year-old, Mathew Richards.
Mathew’s mother, Rebecca Currie, said she was “heartbroken” by the ruling and would take the case to the supreme court. “It felt like we’d put up all that fight for nothing. But my legal team are not letting it drop," sy het gese. “And the news of the EA’s investigation has put a smile on my face, it’s given us a big boost in the fight.”
The family live half a mile from the landfill, and Currie said the fumes were still having a major impact. “We ring up [the EA] and complain about it but it doesn’t feel like it’s getting us anywhere. Mathew is coughing so bad to the extent he’s choking," sy het gese.
The EA said it welcomed the court’s decision but added it “will not affect our determination to tackle the problems at Walleys Quarry”. It said that after the EA’s interventions, “there has been a clear downward trend in hydrogen sulphide levels recorded at our air quality monitoring stations in recent months”.
Walleys Quarry Ltd, an associated company of Red Industries, gesê: “Walleys Quarry Ltd has never received or disposed of hazardous waste in contravention of any regulations. Any allegations that it has ever done so are baseless and wrong.
“There are no grounds whatsoever for this investigation or the unprofessional way it has been publicised by the EA as a supposedly responsible regulator. Ten spyte van hierdie, the company will cooperate fully with the EA investigation so the true facts can be established and made known at the earliest opportunity.”