THE controversial application to extend the life of Warrington's Arpley Landfill site until 2025 should be ruled null and void, an environmental campaigner has claimed.
Local resident John Mulhall (pictured) says the commonly accepted expiry date for the existing planning consent on the 400-acre site is wrong.
While tip operations WRG (Waste Recycling Group) are seeking to renew their planning consent when it expires next year, Mr Mulhall claims the consent actually ran out last year.
This means the tip is already operating illegally - and that the company's application to renew consent is invalid, he says.
Mr Mulhall says he has documented evidence that the original 25-year planning consent for landfill operations by the former Cheshire County Council,  was granted in May 1986, to start from the date work actually started.
A condition was that the start date be notified in writing - but this appeared never to have been done.
The 1986 start date was confirmed in a report to the county's environmental services committee in September, 1992.
Mr Mulhall has searched planning archives and says no corrections were subsequently made.
Although it is now claimed landfill work started in 1988, this is in fact the date the access bridge over the Mersey was completed, according to Mr Mulhall.
Landfill work started well before the bridge came into use, he says..
Mr Mulhall says Warrington Borough Council - who will have to consider WRG's application to carry on tipping for another 12 years - should be seeking aerial pictures taken at the time, as these would show when work started.
He said: "There must be aerial pictures in existence, perhaps taken by Ordnance Survey, the military or other agencies, or even by local micro-light enthusiasts."
Mr Mulhall says other documentation, held by the Environment Agency and stored in a disused salt mine, could also provide evidence of the landfill start date.
But he is concerned that its condition could have deteriorated.
More than 6,000 people have signed a petition opposed WRG's application and last week, David Mowat, MP for Warrington South, raised the issue in Parliament.
He pointed out that Warrington would not be sending materials to landfill from next year and all materials being tipped at Arpley would be coming from other areas.
He said: "A town that produces no landfill waste should not be a dustbin for others."