In a unanimous vote, the Strategic Planning Committee for Dorset Council has recommended that SUEZ recycling and recovery UK is granted planning permission for an additional ten years in which to fill Beacon Hill landfill and complete an extensive restoration project.
Formerly known as the Beacon Hill Brickworks, SUEZ began landfill operations on the site in 1998 and has since filled and capped over 90% of the site.
In recent years, the amount of waste sent to landfill has reduced to the point where Beacon Hill landfill was temporarily closed in 2017, leaving one section of the landfill unfilled. The proposal will allow additional time to fill the available space and restore the land by 2029.
SUEZ will not accept waste for this entire period, instead the site will remain closed until waste becomes available in the local area. Current planning permission allows for 200,000m3 of waste to be delivered each year, so once reopened the final space could be filled in as little as two years. Once the remaining space is filled the site will be restored to a mix of habitats, including lowland heathland and grassland. Lowland heathland is particularly important in the UK as it has declined by 80% over the last century and is designated as a priority habitat by Defra.
Preserving this existing disposal capacity at Beacon Hill will help avoid the need for new landfill space and, once the remaining space is full, will allow us to create a sustainable final landform that complements the nearby Special Area of Conservation.
Beacon Hill landfill is adjacent to Upton Heath Special Area of Conservation, so restoration plans have been developed with specialist consultants and have taken careful consideration of the surrounding area. Restoration works are well underway on the completed sections of the landfill, with young plants beginning to take hold and woodlark, a rare bird and focal species of the nearby conservation area, recently spotted on site.
SUEZ have also worked closely with Dorset Council and Natural England officers to develop mitigation to ensure that the landfill does not have adverse effects on the neighbouring heathlands, including financial compensation for the delayed restoration of the last landfill cell, calculated using Dorset’s Biodiversity Compensation Framework.
Tim Otley, Regional Director – Energy South for SUEZ recycling and recovery UK said, “Although we remain focussed on moving waste up the hierarchy, there are still some end-of-life materials that are not suitable for recycling or recovery. Preserving this existing disposal capacity at Beacon Hill will help avoid the need for new landfill space and, once the remaining space is full, will allow us to create a sustainable final landform that complements the nearby Special Area of Conservation.”