The controversial Walley’s Quarry site in the village of Silverdale has been the subject of protests by residents due to the smell emanating from it. The Environment Agency says it received 2,212 complaints about odour in the Newcastle-under-Lyme region in the week from 12 to 19 April alone.
Following an inspection of the site and surrounding areas on 23 March, the Agency says it identified two breaches of the company’s permit.
Waste odours were perceived to be at levels likely to cause pollution outside the site and the Agency says Staffordshire-based waste management company Red Industries was not taking “all appropriate measures” to prevent this.
It also says the company’s management system and operating procedures were the main cause of odour leaving the site. Odour appeared to be emanating from a waste area due for permanent capping, the Agency says.
An enforcement notice outlining the steps Red Industries needed to take to address the problems was issued on 26 March. It gave Red Industries until today to make the “necessary improvements” to its management system and operating procedures to comply with its permit. This includes capping part of the site.
In a statement given to letsrecycle.com Red Industries said: “We recognise that we are hosted by the local communities in which we operate and are acutely aware of their concerns regarding our landfill operations.
“We have voluntarily curtailed operations to accelerate an extensive capping programme which will seal a substantial and extensive area of the site”
“We have voluntarily curtailed operations to accelerate an extensive capping programme which will seal a substantial and extensive area of the site.
“We can confirm that accelerated programme of capping and other engineering works being undertaken on the site is on plan for completion, as agreed with the regulator, by 30 April 2021.
“This capping programme will continue throughout the remaining life of the quarry, which will stop accepting waste in December 2026, at which point the area will be restored to green field.”
Red Industries RM Ltd
Red Industries renamed the subsidiary which runs the landfill operation on 27 April, from Red Industries RM Ltd to Walleys Quarry Ltd. The company told letsrecycle.com this was to reflect the changing nature of its business.
The company’s statement continued: “Red Industries has expanded its range of services since it was founded in 2006. In the future our waste treatment and sustainable operations will continue to grow whilst our landfill business reduces. This is the reason for renaming the landfill Walleys Quarry Ltd.
“As part of our commitment to keep the local community informed about our landfill operations at Walley’s Quarry we are establishing a new website where information can be shared.”
Environment Agency and Public Health England (PHE) air quality monitoring reports for March were released to the public yesterday. The data has been used to assess the type, time and nature of the emissions from the site.
After a peak in the recorded levels of hydrogen sulphide on 7 and 8 March, the agencies say, levels of this gas have remained below the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) health-based guidance levels for the rest of the month.
Indicative data for April continues to show hydrogen sulphide levels below the WHO health-based standard but, at times, above the WHO annoyance threshold.
Clare Dinnis, West Midlands area director with the Environment Agency, said: “We know and understand how much the odour from the operations at Walley’s Quarry is impacting people’s lives. We’re holding Red Industries to account for their operations and doing everything within our power to bring its operation into compliance as quickly as possible.”
She added: “In the coming weeks, there will be a site emissions survey, to assess odour levels after Red Industries have completed the capping works. If odour remains, we will take further steps to make sure Red Industries effectively manage odour from the site.”
Red Industries announced in November 2016 that its subsidiary Red Industries RM had acquired the Walley’s Quarry landfill business from British building materials company Tarmac. The total quantity of non-hazardous waste allowed to be accepted at the facility was 250,000 tonnes per year.
Red Industries appointed former managing director Nigel Bowen as its new chief executive in February this year. On 11 March, the company announced it would “voluntarily” curtail landfill operations at Walley’s Quarry two days later.
Having raised the issue in parliament on 9 March, Aaron Bell, Conservative MP for Newcastle-Under-Lyme, wrote an open letter to Mr Bowen on 19 March expressing concerns about “the intolerable levels of odour in Newcastle in recent weeks”.