Residents worry stench will stay

Campaigner Steve Hellyer at the Lidsey site''Photo by Louise AdamsC130107-3 Bog Jan 31 Smell
Campaigner Steve Hellyer at the Lidsey site''Photo by Louise AdamsC130107-3 Bog Jan 31 Smell

VILLAGERS who toured the Lidsey landfill site fear another year of its stink ruining their lives.

A total of 20 individuals were welcomed on to the waste site for an invitation-only tour.

One of those who went along, Pip Pegler, of the Villages’ Action Group, said those who attended were given an honest assessment of the problem by representatives of the joint operators, Sita and Veolia Environmental Services.

But she said it was impossible to shake off the belief that continued rainfall would mean the stench would continue.

“The conclusion we reached was that, if we get a wet spring or summer, unfortunately we could suffer another year blighted by the stench from the tip.

“Is it really within the remit of the operating procedures to be so reliant on an extended dry spell?

“Surely, the operating licence was granted on the understanding we would not suffer in any way.”

The operators said the past year’s rainfall was unprecedented and had saturated the remaining cells, into which waste is put, to make it impossible to cap them to contain the gasses produced.

“Promises were made that, if we get a dry spell for two or three weeks, work can resume on creating a clay cap to seal the cell.

“If, and only if, this is true we can take some consolation from these facts. However, we must remember this is not our problem,” said Mrs Pegler.

The landfill site opened in 1990 at Headhone Farm on the A29 Lidsey Road. It stretches over 50 acres and is licensed to accept 185,000 tons of waste a year and 15,000 tons of inert waste annually.

The site’s creation was fiercely opposed by campaigning residents but its operation has passed largely without creating headlines until last year.

The complaints since then have focused on the smell which has emanated from the site.

Work carried out by the operators, with the Environment Agency’s backing, has failed to solve the problem. This continued anger about the situation led to last Saturday’s invitation to some residents.

Mrs Pegler said the site’s representatives were pleasant, informative and apologetic.

“We hoped a solution would be imminently forthcoming to the foul, gassy stench that has been pervading our communities since last summer,” she said.

“Assurances came thick and fast: the deodorisers used to mask the odour are an innocuous substance that is vegetable-based and would be safe enough to drink if a person wanted to do that.

“The gassy smell that is regularly causing residents to suffer headaches contains molecules that are so diluted by the time it reaches residential areas it should not pose a health risk.”