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Written by on 15 August 2021

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has been served a Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notice on Walleys Quarry which requires them to abate the statutory nuisance created from the foul odour that has been affecting communities’ health and wellbeing for many months.

Residents in large parts of Newcastle and the surrounding areas continue to suffer from the impact of the gas odours and significant numbers of complaints are still being received by the Council. Air quality monitoring equipment continues to indicate that concentrations of Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) emissions in the area remain high and consistently above the World Health Organisation’s permitted annoyance, or nuisance, levels.

The Leader of the Council, Simon Tagg, said: “Following a lot of detailed preparatory work to put the legal case together, the Council’s Head of Environmental Health is now in a position to serve the notice. This triggers the only action the local authority can take to try and stop this terrible blight on our residents’ lives.

“For too long we have seen the impact of the odours on residents’ physical and mental health and the effect on their children. We have also seen the impact on our businesses and schools and the increasing concerns from medical professionals.

“We have been urging the operators of the landfill to do the right thing, to stop the foul odours, but they haven’t. Instead, they have repeatedly refused to take public responsibility for the damage their activities have inflicted on so many local people. We have also waited for the Environment Agency to use their powers as regulators to bring the site into compliance but they simply haven’t achieved enough, and what they have done has taken too long.

“So, the Council is having to do something that we believe hasn’t happened very often in the UK – a local authority serving an abatement notice on an Environment Agency regulated site. We have to set aside Council Taxpayers money to do this but local people have suffered too much, for too long, and we can’t stand by and let it go on without challenge.”

The Council does not have any powers to suspend, restrict or close operations at the landfill but in taking this action requires the abatement of the nuisance and the prohibition of any recurrence. The company has five months to comply or 21 days to appeal the notice.

This unprecedented legal action against a landfill site operator by the Council follows a Special Cabinet meeting on 21 July where a £1,000,000 ‘war chest’ budget was approved amid stark warnings about the potential for long-term health effects on residents from Public Health England (PHE).

In taking legal action the Council will rely on legislation around the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which 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”.

Evidence gathered by Council officers to support the statutory notice includes:

  • Council officers undertaking intensive odour ‘tours’, in and out of working hours, to monitor and witness odours in real time;
  • Working with a selection of specimen residential properties to assess odour within people’s homes;
  • Gathering additional air quality monitoring data through joint funding with Staffordshire County Council and the Environment Agency (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 residents’ group ‘Stop The Stink Cap It Off’;
  • Collecting statements from residents and affected bodies;
  • Securing legal advice from Queen’s Counsel.

Walleys Quarry Ltd. was formerly known as RED Industries RM Limited. The parent company renamed the subsidiary which runs the landfill operation in April this year.

The notice was served on Walleys Quarry Ltd. on Friday  afternoon.