Chorley and Leyland residents kick up a stink over landfill's foul stench

Residents are stepping up their fight over a foul stench emanating from a controversial landfill site which is making their lives a misery.

Thursday, 18th January 2018, 7:36 am
Updated Thursday, 18th January 2018, 8:50 am
The landfill site at Clayton Hall

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Over Christmas householders living in Whittle-le-Woods, Clayton-le-Woods and Buckshaw Village complained that the stink coming from the Clayton Hall landfill site in Whittle had become unbearable.

Now protesters, concerned about the health effects of the odorous gases, are threatening to seek legal action and are demanding that an independent air quality report is published.

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Mark Clifford

Meanwhile an action group – Leyland and Chorley Stink Bomb – has been formed with the aim of getting their hands on a emissions report from permit holder Quercia Ltd, to establish whether the gases are dangerous or not.

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle has also written to Lancashire County Council to ask if there are any provisions within the planning application to revoke Quercia’s licence.

Despite repeated attempts by the Post asking Quercia to comment on the issue, they have still not responded.

Victoria Richardson, 48, of the Stink Bomb group who lives in Buckshaw Village, says that residents are even considering wearing pollution masks to protect themselves against the odour.

Mark Clifford

“People are suffering from some very nasty effects from the landfill site,” she said. “They’re saying they have burning eyes and breathing problems which are triggering asthma attacks.

“We want to get the levels of gas emissions released by the company. We don’t know for sure but we think the emissions include methane, carbon dioxide and sulphur. “People are complaining of dizziness, watery eyes and migraines. We need to establish if its dangerous. Young children are most affected by this.

“The company has cut a big swathe out of the landfill site and they are unable to cover it but in the meantime they are releasing these noxious fumes. It’s really escalated.”

Clayton Hall landfill site has long been controversial, regularly sparking outrage from residents living nearby. Many can remember the site as far back as the 1970s and have long complained of awful smells and seagulls. But residents say the stench has been exacerbated since November last year. It prompted vice-chairman at Clayton-le-Woods Parish Council Mark Clifford to visit the Dawson Lane site in December.

He told the Post how workers had cut through the mountain of waste in order to expand the site. “They are filling the site with processed waste which doesn’t smell but it’s the rotting waste that they’ve cut into which is causing the terrible odour,” he said at the time. “You can see steam pockets coming out. It depends on which way the wind blows but you can smell it in Whittle and Clayton-le-Woods.

“They need to sink bore holes down with pipes to extract the gas from the site. It will then go into an engine which produces electricity for the National Grid.”

According to Coun Clifford, Neales Waste Management, which owns the site, has now begun drilling to connect the pipe work to the engine which generates electricity for the National Grid. This should capture the stinking gases being released into the air and redirect it to create electricity.

He said: “By the end of January residents should see a reduction in the smells as the gas extraction system will hopefully be fully operational.”

However work to drill the bore holes has been plagued with problems and although by Monday, January 8 a drilling rig had arrived at Clayton Hall landfill site work was stalled.

Coun Clifford said: “First the drive shaft snapped on the drilling rig and they had to wait for a new one. Then a burnt out alternator failed on a deodorising machine. A new alternator was quickly ordered but the wrong part had arrived. However work is now well underway barring the unfortunate breakdowns.

“The management are sincerely sorry that these smells have affected our local area and I’ve been assured that they are doing everything possible to reduce them hopefully to an acceptable level by the end of January.”

Although work to capture the gases is due to be complete by the end of January questions still remain over whether it will stop the smell entirely.

Coun Clifford says Quercia has plans to cut into more of the waste to continue expanding the site in March. This will mean that more bore holes will need to be drilled to capture the gases.

He said; “Only when it’s covered up with non smelly waste will the stink stop.”

Work to cover the exposed rotting waste only starts in August. Coun Clifford said: “The rotting face of the tip will be fully covered up in the future but I’ve been advised that this process is forecast to take at least two years and there will be periods of bad smells throughout.”

In order to bring the matter to the attention of the Environment Agency residents have flooded the Government arm with complaints. The Environment Agency has confirmed it is investigating the odour. A newsletter sent to residents states: “We have carried out investigations, including checks by a number of staff in the area to verify your reports of odour. We have determined the causes of the problems and we know what measures are required to address the issues.

“We require the permit holder, Quercia Ltd to take appropriate measures to minimise the impact the site is having on the community. They already have a specialist landfill gas management contractor on site to collect the gas on site to generate electricity but the company is aware they must do better.

“The operator has started works on site to improve capping and is installing more gas collection wells.

“This cannot be done immediately but gas containment will be improved when completed. We will be visiting the site regularly to ensure that improvements are on schedule.”

A protest was held at Clayton-le-Woods Parish Council over the issue on Monday night. Residents experiencing the odour can report it to the site operator on 01254 506351 or to the Environment Agency on 0800 807060.

Health concerns

According to a study by Public Health England on the impact on health from landfill sites odours are frequently a key issue at landfills but the levels of chemicals are well below levels associated with toxic effects.

The report, published in 2011, stated: “Some people may experience symptoms such as nausea or dizziness as a reaction to the odours even when the concentrations of these chemicals are insufficient to be directly harmful to health.”

People with any health concerns should contact their local GP or ring the NHS helpline 111.

Background to Clayton Hall controversy

Clayton Hall Quarry and Landfill Site was given the green light to operate for another ten years in 2016.

Lancashire County Council approved a further five years of landscaping followed by five years of aftercare at the Whittle site.

Although residents living near Dawson Lane voiced their concerns at the time both LCC and the Environment Agency assured homeowners that the site would be regulated.

In November 2017 Neales Waste Management commenced landscaping work at the site.