The issue of odour from this landfill site is one which I take very seriously - it has always been my top local priority. Indeed, I was asked about the landfill at my selection meeting by Derrick Huckfield and it has been on my agenda since then. Since being elected in December 2019, I have held many meetings with local campaigners, the Environment Agency, and Red Industries Limited in an attempt to find a solution.
Clearly, this is affecting the quality of life of a number of my constituents, and the situation is not fair or right.
I have met with the Prime Minister on multiple occasions including on the 14th July at Prime Minister’s Questions. I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister agree with me that the EA are not getting this sorted quickly enough, and I will continue to push for more action, more quickly on this. I am having regular meetings with the EA regarding the odour. I have also spoken spoken with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Secretary of State and the Department for Health and Social Care Secretary of State. In October I met with the new Minister responsible for waste, Jo Churchill MP. Jo gave a commitment to make Walley’s her first visit to a waste site as the new Minister - the exact date is to be confirmed and I will update you as soon as I know. On 19th May I held a debate on Odorous emissions from Walley’s Quarry and the response of the Environment Agency. Additionally, on 9th March I brought forward a motion in the Commons to introduce a Bill to regulate odorous emissions from landfills.
I welcome the news that Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council have served a Statutory Nuisance Abatement Notice on Walley’s 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. It is a scandal that the gases have been persisting for so long.
I am delighted with the outcome of the recent the recent judicial review and commend the family for their strength over recent months, as well as the legal team, who worked so hard to bring about this landmark result. This is a win for the family, who can be very proud of how they have fought for Mathew, and for the wider community, all of whom have been suffering for far too long. The entire Newcastle-under-Lyme community deserves better than the complacency of the last twelve months - for too long the EA has allowed this problem to drag on, even as it presents a serious and ongoing risk to health to the most vulnerable in our community.
Upon a recent meeting with the EA, I asked what further measures they will be taking to address the recent High Court judgement. I put it to the EA that, as the ruling said they should do “much, much more” than is currently being done, suspending the permit and stopping new waste coming onto the site would be within the scope of the judgement, particularly in light of the comments the judge made around waste acceptance. This does not seem to be the position of the EA, although they cannot comment on their own ongoing legal advice. The EA believe they are currently getting the operator to do as much as possible to reduce the odour, and that the current waste acceptance is not part of the underlying problem.
The ruling also sends a strong message to the operator of the site. They can no longer continue to evade their responsibilities and deny the scale of the problem in light of this judgement, which emphasises the serious problems their mismanagement of the site continues to cause across the Borough. Once again, I call upon the operator to apologise, take full ownership of the issue, and set out what reparations they intend to make to the community.
I will continue to work with all relevant bodies and with residents in search of a solution.