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The BIG Drive Home

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Government Permission requested by Newcastle Borough Council

Written by on 24 April 2024

The Government is being asked to grant permission for Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council to take legal action against the operators of Walleys Quarry.

Earlier this month Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council notified Walleys Quarry Ltd, a subsidiary of Red Industries Ltd, that the site operator had failed to properly control emissions from the landfill in Silverdale and was considered in breach of a court-granted Abatement Notice.

Now, following the receipt of detailed advice from a King’s Counsel (KC), the Borough Council must ask permission of the Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to take the legal action because it oversees the Environment Agency – which is responsible for regulating the site.

Simon McEneny, Interim Chief Executive of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, said: “The terms of the Abatement Notice say that we need the permission of the Secretary of State to take the next step in bringing legal action.

“Therefore we will be writing to the Hon Steve Barclay MP in the next few days to request he grants that permission as quickly as possible so that we can continue preparing the case against the site operators for creating or allowing statutory odour nuisance.”

In August 2021, the Borough Council served an Abatement Notice against Walleys Quarry Ltd, requiring it to control the smell nuisance caused by landfill operations.

The landfill operators contested the action, but dropped the appeal following mediation and the Abatement Notice became enforceable in March 2023.

Accepting that the landfill had been a source of ‘community complaint’, the company agreed it must control odour problems by ‘the best practicable means’ and to publicise information about what was happening there.

Simon Tagg, Leader of Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, said: “There has been a formal process of evidence gathering for council officers to follow and that has taken time, with seeking detailed KC’s advice and building a case that officers believe presents clear evidence that the operator has failed to properly control emissions.

“Councillors don’t have any power to influence any legal action, which is the responsibility of the council to pursue, but I wholeheartedly support the action officers have taken so far.

“Because Walleys Quarry is regulated by the Environment Agency, the next step is to request the necessary permission from the Secretary of State, because it is wrong that residents continue to suffer the gas odours in their own homes, wrong that they feel unable to let their children play in their gardens and I want them to know that the council is doing all it can within its limited powers to hold them to account.”