Council launches study into impact of Walleys Quarry landfill site


Walleys Quarry

Staffordshire County Council have launched an independent study into the impact of emissions from Walleys Quarry landfill site on local communities.

Walleys Quarry in Newcastle-under-Lyme has been subject to numerous complaints over foul-smelling odours since 2021.

A petition started by local MP Aaron Bell calling for the landfill site to be closed has over 8,000 signatures.

The study will explore how the odours have influenced children’s education, the local economy, community safety, the value of homes and other factors.

Staffordshire Council said researchers will talk directly to residents, businesses and schools to ask how Walleys Quarry landfill has affected their physical and mental health.

A spokesperson for Walleys Quarry told Circular Online: “The landfill site holds an environmental permit and is stringently regulated by the Environment Agency to ensure the onsite activities do not cause harm to human health or the environment.

“We play a vital role in offering residual waste disposal supporting wider recycling services. The team is focused on managing the site to minimise impacts to community around the site and we will continue to do so.”

Walleys Quarry
Walleys Quarry has been subject to numerous complaints over foul-smelling odours.

In March, the Environment Agency lifted the suspension notice it issued to Walleys Quarry that prohibited the site from accepting and disposing of non-inert waste specified in its permit.

Aaron Bell, MP for Newcastle-Under-Lyme, criticised the decision and said it was “not welcome” and called on the Environment Agency to close the site.

Leader of Newcastle Borough Council Simon Tagg labelled the decision “unbelievable” and echoed Bell’s call for Walleys Quarry to be closed.

However, since the suspension notice has been lifted, air quality monitoring has shown a reduction in odour levels around the landfill site.

The Environment Agency recorded 167 odour reports/complaints between 29 April and 5 May compared to 694 between 4 and 10 March.

Data from mobile monitoring facilities near Walleys Quarry showed hydrogen sulphide concentrations were above the World Health Organisation odour annoyance guideline level 2.4% of the time 0.3km from the site between 29 April and 5 May.

A fall from 34% of the time between 4 and 10 March.

In April, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council announced it is preparing legal action against the operators of Walleys Quarry for alleged breaches of an Abatement Notice.

The sustained nature of this problem is very unusual and it’s possible that some of the consequences are less obvious than others.

An Abatement Notice became enforceable in March 2023 following a successful legal action brought by the Borough Council. It obliges the operator to not create or allow statutory odour nuisance.

Commissioned jointly by a group of public bodies, including Staffordshire County Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, the Environment Agency and UK Health Security Agency, the survey’s findings are set to be published later in the year.

 Dr Richard Harling, who has been delegated to lead the project, commented: “We are well aware of how this problem has caused health symptoms for some residents and how the persistent foul odour has affected their well-being.

“We also want to understand how living with this problem has affected the community in other ways, how it may have affected local schools, businesses, and whether people have struggled to sell their homes since this became national news.

“The sustained nature of this problem is very unusual and it’s possible that some of the consequences are less obvious than others.

“The more we know, the more we can press government for help in dealing with hidden issues in the community.”

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