Town must not be "dustbin for others"
- Published 12/05/12 6:00 am
He told James Paice, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that by next year, Warrington would be sending no waste for landfill, so all materials being tipped at Arpley would be coming from other areas.
Mr Mowat said: "A town that produces no landfill waste should not be a dustbin for others."
Planning consent for the 400-acre site expires next year after 30 years, but tip operators WRG - Waste Recycling Group - have submitted an application to continue operations for another 12 years, infuriating local residents.
Mr Mowat won an assurance from the minister that the Environment Agency would ensure that if the tip's life was extended, safety concerns - including those involving illegally dumped cattle carcasses - would be addressed.
The Warrington MP said the Arpley tip was very close to the centre of Warrington and was currently serviced by up to 250 20-tonne lorries every day - a total of 500 separate journeys.
Up to 10,000 residents lived within a square mile of the site and thousands more were impacted on by the lorries, winding their way through residents streets to reach the site.
The town's planners, in their wisdom, had allowed the building of a new housing estate, Saxon Park, less than a quarter of a mile from the site entrance and many residents bought their homes after being assured the tip would be closed by 2013.
Mr Mowat said the site had a single access route - Old Liverpool Road - which was not designed for such a large volume of traffic. Victorian-era houses, set close to the road, were vulnerable to vibrations and several had suffered structural damage.
He said: "To have to put up with such problems during normal daytime hours is bad enough, but despite a ban on vehicles entering the site before 8 am, many lorries enter the access road well before 7 am and we have seen photographs of parked-up trucks taken as early as 6.45 am.
"Residents in the Sankey Bridges area have their sleep patterns disturbed six out of seven days every week as well as having to endure all the dirt, flies and smells associated with a landfill site of this size."
He added: "It simply cannot be right that a large district is blighted in this way given that from 2013 none of Warrington's waste will go to landfill either in Arpley or anywhere else."
For years, Warrington had contributed only 10 per cent of the materials tipped at Arpley.
Mr Mowat also expressed concern about WRG's proposal to stack waste higher than originally planned. In the mid-1990s, several hundred cattle carcases either infected or believed to be infected with BSE - bovine spongiform encephalopathy - were dumped at Arpley-in many cases illegally.
"It now appears that the current site operator has no idea where those carcases were buried or what their condition is", he said.
Warrington was managing to reduce the amount of waste it sent to landfill but was being punished because neighbouring authorities had failed to do the same.
Mr Paice said he could not pass judgment on the merits of the proposals made by WRG. This was a matter for the planning authority - Warrington Borough Council.
They were also matters for the Environment Agency, which regulated the operations at Arpley through a permit granted to the operator.
If WRG's application were granted, its permit would have to be varied to ensure any risks were reassessed and appropriate measures put in place.
Mr Paice said it was his understanding that the Environment Agency did know where cattle carcases had been deposited and this was in the Birchwood area and this area would not be disturbed. However, if Mr Mowat had any evidence which might disprove this, he would welcome seeing it.
The Government's long term plan was to eliminate landfill altogether, he added.
He gave an assurance that the Environment Agency would closely assess any application to vary the environmental permit to landfill at Arpley and would satisfy itself that the proposals would not result in an unacceptable risk to health or the environment.
Pictured: David Mowat at the Arpley Landfill site