- Since 2005, the Environment Agency (EA) has regulated an Environmental Permit for the operation of a landfill site at Walley’s Quarry, Silverdale, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire.
- The site is located near the centre of Newcastle under Lyme.
- The site which is a former quarry has planning permission for both a landfill (to ground level) and to create a land raise (above ground level)
- The landfill site has planning permission (regulated by Staffordshire County Council) to accept waste for disposal until 2026 with final restoration to be completed by 2042.
The Environment Agency regulates two environmental permits held by Red Industries to operate a waste facility at Walleys Quarry - one permit for the landfill site and one permit for the soil treatment facility.
The permit allows the operation of a Non Hazardous waste landfill. Non Hazardous waste includes municipal and industrial wastes.
The permit would also allow Stable Non-Reactive Hazardous Waste (SNRHW) (gypsum and asbestos), in a separate cell. The operator has never used a separate cell and therefore SNRHW is not accepted.
The total quantity of waste allowed to be accepted at the facility is 400,000 tonnes per year. The permit also allows the operation of:
- a leachate treatment plant for management of leachate produced by the landfill
- landfill gas engine and flare for treatment and utilisation of landfill gas created by the landfill.
Monitoring is required for landfill gas, leachate, surface water and groundwater at a number of points at the facility, at different frequencies (weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual).
How do the Environment Agency assess odour?
Assessment of odour is a dynamic process determined by site specific and weather conditions. The EA uses an assessment process designed to provide as much information as possible. The 'FIDOR' acronym - Frequency, Intensity, Duration, Offensiveness and Receptor Sensitivity - is a useful reminder of some factors that will influence the degree of odour pollution. They use a 6 point scale:
0 – No odour
1 – Very faint odour (need to inhale into the wind to smell anything)
2 – Faint odour (you can detect an odour when you inhale normally)
3 – Distinct odour (there is clearly an odour in the air as you leave your car or enter the area)
4 – Strong odour (a bearable odour but strong, you could stay in the area for some time)
5 – Very strong odour (unpleasantly strong, you will want to leave the area quickly)
6 – Extremely strong odour (likely to cause nausea and a strong need to remove yourself from the odour immediately)
An operator will not be in breach of the odour condition in their environmental permit when they cause odour pollution beyond the site boundary, provided they are using all appropriate measures. However, even if the operator is using all appropriate measures but the EA considers that the residual odour is at such a level that it is unreasonable, it will be necessary for the operator to take further measures to reduce odour pollution, or risk having to reduce or cease operations if appropriate.
The Landfill Directive provides certain technical Standards for landfill sites. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/environmental-permittingguid…
The Environment Agency has published landfill technical guidance that it expects operators to follow, in addition to the conditions set in their Environmental Permit. Technical guidance has also been published on waste acceptance, water monitoring, landfill engineering, landfill gas and leachate treatment. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/environmental-permitting-land…
Operators also have to use the EA's published guidance notes for particular topics such as noise and odour. See link below https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/environmental-permitting-h4-…
What measures are in place to minimise the odour at a landfill site?
Measures to minimise odour commonly include the following. This is not an exhaustive list, there are other measures which can be used on a site by site basis:
- Capturing landfill gas and combusting it using a landfill gas engine or flare
- keeping the tipping area as small as possible
- covering waste as soon as possible
- installing capping over the waste when operational areas have been completed
- ensuring the landfill gas management system is operating effectively and installed once gas is being produced.
What happens when the site stops taking waste?
Once a landfill site is full, it cannot accept any further waste and it is closed. For Walleys Quarry, this will be no later than 2026.
The environmental permit conditions still require the permit holder (the operator) to complete the monitoring required by the permit and demonstrate that no pollution is occurring - this will be until 2042. The permit holder is supposed to make financial provision for the landfill site for 30 years after the site stops taking waste. This is known as the aftercare period.
In response to increased community concern of odour within Silverdale and the surrounding areas since the Christmas Period, the EA have installed an Air Quality Monitoring unit in the grounds of the Severn Trent Pumping Station off Galingale View. This Mobile Monitoring Facility (MMF) will remain in place for at least 3 months and collect monitoring data continuously. The data will be collated into a full and summary report which will also be provided to Public Health England to provide expert opinion on any human health impacts. I have asked the EA to consider how to provide updates to the community while the monitoring is taking place. They are considering how this might work, and will confirm how these updates will be provided shortly. A second location will be installed in the next week.
Reports of odour as well as patterns of wind direction were reviewed to determine appropriate locations for monitoring sites. Both locations are within a direction where residents have reported odour. The location of the monitor must also be in a secure location with a dedicated electrical supply which must be assessed and approved before operating.
The Liaison Committee is run by RED Industries, the operator of the site. RED Industries facilitate and attend these meetings, and are responsible for the invitations and scheduling of these meetings.
Representatives are currently invited to attend from the EA, Staffordshire County Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, local councillors, and residents’ representatives, including various parish councils and residents associations. As you will note from this list, as MP I am not invited to attend these meetings, although on one occasion (January 2021) I have attended as an observer.
If any residents are interested in joining these meetings to represent the community please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The EA works in consultation with Public Health England (PHE), formerly the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and follows their advice and guidance.
They produced a report (RCE-18) which was published in 2011 and concludes that living close to a well-managed landfill site does not pose a significant risk to human health. The report encompasses the results of a number of epidemiological studies, detailed monitoring results from a major project funded by the Environment Agency, and advice sought from the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment. You can read more about the impact on health from landfill site emissions in the report here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uplo….
If you have health concerns relating to the landfill my advice is to speak to your GP. The local authority’s Environmental Health Department and Public Health England will be able to provide appropriate advice to local GP’s.