Moore says “no options” off the table for dealing with Walleys Quarry


Defra minister Robbie Moore

Waste and Resource Minister Robbie Moore has said there are “no options that are off the table” for dealing with hydrogen sulphide emissions from Walleys Quarry landfill site.

Speaking to a reporter from Signal 1 on 19 February, Moore said he intends to hold the Environment Agency to account over the options they are exploring. The Environment Agency told Circular Online that it is keeping all its “regulatory options under review”.

Moore also said he spoke to residents in Galingale View and described the smell coming from the landfill site as “bad”. Writing on X, Moore said the “status quo is unacceptable and cannot continue”.

Walleys Quarry in Newcastle-under-Lyme has been subject to numerous complaints over foul-smelling odours. Between 5-11 February, the Environment Agency received 905 odour reports/complaints.

We find his (Moore’s) decision to go ahead with a visit despite being unable to meet with us incredulous and disingenuous.

A spokesperson for Walleys Quarry told Circular Online: “Walleys Quarry Ltd. is disappointed that the minister has chosen to visit the area and speak about the site without seeing it for himself.

“After first indicating he was planning to do so, we were later informed that he would be unable to attend. We had hoped to welcome Mr Moore to the site to see our demonstrable, substantial and sustained progress.

“We find his decision to go ahead with a visit despite being unable to meet with us incredulous and disingenuous. Progress on site and for the best community outcome will only come as a result of collaboration.”

“Further to these aims, our invitation remains open for the minister to meet with and discuss how we can work together to meet mutual goals.”

Environment Agency figures released on 14 February show hydrogen sulphide concentrations were above the World Health Organisation (WHO) odour annoyance guideline level 22.6% of the time in Galingale View, which is 0.4km from the Walleys Quarry site.

Environment Agency
Figures released by the Environment Agency covering the period between 5-11 February.

In October 2023, the Environment Agency apologised in a public meeting after it emerged that some monitoring of emissions from Walleys Quarry had been under-reported. The regulator has installed mobile monitoring facilities (MMF) around the site to monitor levels of hydrogen sulphide.

The MMF in the local cemetery, which is the closest location to the landfill site, shows hydrogen sulphide concentrations were above the WHO odour annoyance guideline level 20.8% of the time between 5-11 February – an increase on the previous week.

When Circular Online asked Walleys Quarry to comment on the Environment Agency figures, a spokesperson said: “All on-site emissions remain well within WHO guidelines and pose no risk to health.”

We are keeping Walleys Quarry Ltd’s response and our regulatory options under review.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency told Circular Online: “We recognise that there have been recent temporary increases in hydrogen sulphide emissions around Walleys Quarry and in odour reports from local residents. We have every sympathy with the local community and remain committed to maintaining long-term improvements in emissions from the site.

“We continue to require Walleys Quarry Ltd to comply with its environmental permit and implement all the measures necessary to manage emissions of landfill gas from the site. We are keeping Walleys Quarry Ltd’s response and our regulatory options under review.”

The Environment Agency regulates the operation of Walleys Quarry Landfill under the environmental permit held by the site. There are no permit conditions which set maximum emission limits for hydrogen sulphide. The permit also does not require the elimination of all odours outside the site boundary.

On 12 February, the MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme Aaron Bell launched a petition calling on the Environment Agency to issue a closure notice to Walleys Quarry and shut the site “for good”. The petition has reached 4,993 signatures as of 19 February.

Walleys Quarry
Between 5-11 February, the Environment Agency received 905 odour reports/complaints about Walleys Quarry.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has also voted to urge the Environment Agency to close the landfill site.

A spokesperson for Walleys Quary said calls to close the site are “unproductive, inflammatory and disregard any thought or effort towards the practical realities”.

They told Circular Online: “We remain committed to our end goal. In time, Walleys Quarry Ltd. will cease to operate as a landfill and restoration will be completed.”

In order to issue a Closure Notice, the Environment Agency said it must be satisfied there is a risk of “serious long-term pollution or persistent non-compliance with permit conditions” that suggests an operator is not competent to manage the activity.

The regulator said it would only issue a Closure Notice as a “last resort” after having exhausted all other enforcement options.

An early closure of Walleys Quarry would be “particularly complicated”, the Environment Agency said, as the landfill remains partially filled and has not reached the final levels favourable for restoration, nor those required by the planning permission.

On 14 February, Shadow Environment Secretary Steve Reed published a letter to the Environment Secretary Steve Barclay in which he criticised the Environment Agency and the Conservative Government for a “lack of action” over the Walleys Quarry landfill site.

He wrote: “Please let me know whether you have yet met with the Environment Agency to ask why they have so badly let down the people of Newcastle-under-Lyme. Do you believe they have the powers necessary to take enforcement against the operators, and if not, what are your plans to address it?”

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