Questions over landfill site answered

Monday, February 26, 2018

Organisations working together to tackle an odour problem at a landfill site have issued responses to questions posed by the public.

People living near to the Clayton Hall Landfill in Chorley have complained about the smell from the site for several months.
The Environment Agency, Public Health England, Chorley Borough Council and Lancashire County Council are working together to find a solution to the problem with operator Quercia.
At a recent drop-in meeting for residents a number of questions were posed to experts.
The responses have now been collated to be shared with all residents in the area who have been affected.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "All the agencies thought it was important that these responses were shared with everyone who has been affected.
"We are pushing the operator of the landfill to cap the source of this problem as soon as possible.
"We understand how frustrating this situation is and wanted to ensure all those affected had the very latest information available."
"We will continue to monitor the situation and keep the local residents informed."

Q&A following public drop-in session

• How are we monitoring health effects that residents are claiming to have experienced and is there the potential for an online survey?

We are drawing on a variety of sources to monitor the health effects on local residents. Complaints received by Environment, CBC, LCC and NHS are passed to PHE for a detailed analysis and assessment of the impact on health and wellbeing. We are also considering the information on the social media as part of this. PHE are designing an online health survey of the local area to establish a comprehensive picture of how this incident has affected local residents. The link to the survey will be shared when it is finalised in the next few days.

• Are the mental health issues being considered?

Yes. We are aware this is causing some anxiety and low mood in the local area due to the ongoing nature of the problem. We advise those who have concerns about their health to call 111 or their GP to see the necessary support.

• Can residents expect a Council Tax rebate?

Chorley Borough Council and Lancashire County Council have had several enquiries about whether people affected by the odour will receive a reduction on their council tax rates. We completely understand why people are asking this question because the situation is unacceptable for residents. Our view on this is that it should be the operator, which is responsible for causing the problem, who should be putting something back into the community. It would be wrong for other council taxpayers having to take the burden or see services cut because of the operator’s actions.

• How will residents be compensated?

At the moment there are no plans within the local authorities to provide compensation to residents. All our efforts are focused on resolving the problem. Once it is sorted this is something we’ll be asking the operator to consider.

• Can authorities set up a respite centre for residents?

We are aware of a social media post about this. Having considered a range of factors, on balance, there are no plans to set up a respite centre at the moment. We will continue to monitor the situation.

• At what point will the decision be taken to close the site?

Our priority is to address the source of the current emissions by capping it effectively. In the short term, the site and operator will continue to be monitored for compliance with the statutory improvement notice issued by the Environment Agency. Beyond this, monitoring will continue to take place for compliance with the site's Environment permit and planning permission. Should conditions at the site remain unacceptable, the statutory agencies will consider what further steps to take.

• If the site if closed what is the process and who has ongoing responsibility for the site?

A landfill site generates landfill gas for many years and presents a potential risk to the environment, which needs managing. Closing the site by stopping the company depositing waste permanently will not prevent the landfill generating gas. A closed site remains the responsibility of the permit holder and they must comply with the terms of the permit, whether or not the site is accepting waste. The Environment Agency is the licensing authority and the principal regulator of the permit, which would continue to remain in force.

• What happens if the temporary capping doesn’t work?

Monitoring will continue to take place for compliance with the site's Environment permit and planning permission. Monitoring of health and environment conditions will also continue. Should conditions at the site remain unacceptable, the statutory agencies will consider the further steps to take. Further assessment will be needed from the Environment Agency's specialist landfill engineers to identify the most effective actions to take in the event that the capping does not work.

• Why isn’t monitoring being undertaken through the night when the odour is at its worst?

Monitoring of the site is now being done 24 hours a day thanks to static equipment which was installed by the Environment Agency. In addition, officers from the Environment Agency have also begun to carry out monitoring using portable devices from 11pm to 3am as residents have stated they believe this is the period when the odour becomes more pronounced.

• Are we confident we are communicating effectively with hard to reach groups?

Alternative and additional forms of communication, such as a leaflet drops in the area, are being considered to ensure all people affected by this issue have been contacted. Regular updates have been made on the Environment Agency website, including monthly newsletters, as well as information about the monitoring taking place. Updates to the media have also been issued by the organisations involved Chorley Borough Council, together with updates through their its websites and social media channels. We expect Quercia Ltd to set up a community liaison group to deal with concerns from the local residents as a matter of urgency.

• Where does the waste go from Clayton le Woods area?

The residual waste (green bin) is collected by Chorley BC and taken to Global Renewables Lancashire Operations Ltd in Leyland (the waste plant next to Leyland Motors). GRLOL process the material into Refuse Derived Fuel which is forwarded to Viridors energy from waste plant at Runcorn. Approx. 99% of the waste goes to Runcorn with the remainder landfilled at Whinney Hill landfill, Altham. All residual waste from Chorley is disposed of via this same route. Whinney Hill, is the only landfill that Lancashire County Council is contracted with and we do not send any waste to Clayton Hall landfill.

• Concerns have been raised about the colour of a local stream which runs near to the landfill site. Could it be contaminated?

This is an issue which has been raised on social media. The complaint has now been passed on to the Environment Agency for them to investigate. Members of the public are being encouraged to report any such incidents to the incident response line (0800 807060) so they can immediately investigate.

• It has been reported on social media that a nursery school was told to keep its windows closed and told to stop children from going outside. Does this mean it is not safe for people in the open air?

The advice of Public Health England remains the same. Any symptoms are short term and we do not expect any long term health effects.
People are being advised to keep their windows closed if they detect a smell from the landfill and then to air out their property once the smell is gone. There is no advice to stop people, including children, from going outdoors, and it remains safe to do so.

• What are the planning permissions for the site?

Clayton Hall is a largely worked out sand quarry, which is being restored through the deposit of non-hazardous waste. The site also has an associated waste management and recycling centre. Planning permission is in place for sand extraction and landfilling operations at Clayton Hall subject to conditions controlling time limits, site area, landforms, hours of working, landscaping and aftercare etc. Planning Permission 09/13/1075 (granted 13 April 2016) was for a review of the existing old planning permissions for site under the provisions of the Environment Act 1995. This is the main planning permission and includes the historic landfill area. Permission LCC/2015/0069 (granted 8 February 2017) was for a landfill extension and reprofiling works to tie into the existing site. The latter permission includes an agreement for extended aftercare of the site and to provide public access once the site has been restored and landscaped.

• Is the height of the landfill site above approved levels?

In early January 2018 the site operator acknowledged that levels were up to 5m above approved pre-settlement levels at the high point of the site and it was stated that this equated to approximately 3000 tonnes of surplus material. The surplus material has now been redistributed into adjoining areas of the site and the operator has advised that site levels now comply with terms of the planning permission. The County Council is waiting for results of an up to date topographical survey to verify this. Should levels now be compliant there would be no breach of planning control in this respect and no grounds to consider enforcement action.

• Why did the operator create a haul road without planning permission?

It is normal practice for a landfill operator to create temporary access routes within landfill sites to facilitate different stages of development. The access road was formed through and over deposited waste within the existing landfill site and did not need separate planning permission. Furthermore, the access road was not created as a direct consequence of planning permission being granted for an extension to the site at its southern end. The operator advised that the access road was to provide access to the upper flanks of the existing site at a safe gradient for vehicles.

Tagged as: Health and Social Care

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