Timescale for Welbeck country park development revealed by Wakefield Council
The development of a new country park on land currently occupied by a huge waste tip will start in 2025.
Welbeck Landfill Site, near Normanton, will become the largest country park in the Wakefield district when a restoration project to transform it is completed.
Wakefield Council which owns the land, is pressing ahead with the plans after releasing what was described as a "warts and all" report on the history of the site last week.
The recent developments have been welcomed by local campaigners who've been frustrated by a lack of progress over the last 20 years, with a country park having been first promised in the 1990s.
Speaking on a visit to the edge of Welbeck on Friday morning, the council's deputy leader Jack Hemingway, said that the privately managed site would be returned to the council in parts over the next few years.
Councillor Hemingway said: "The current operation of the site is done in compartments. Some of those will be transferred back to the council before others.
"Probably 2025 will be when the work commences proper in terms of plantation and development.
"But before then there will be extensive planning. Some parts of the site have already naturalised, but not to the standard we want for the country park.
"So we'll be looking at what we can do prior to that."
He added: "Of course there will be a public consultation and the involvement with nature groups and environmental groups before 2025, commencing now really."
Paul Dainton has been the president of Residents Against Toxic Scheme (RATS), which has campaigned against the operation of the tip since 1998.
Mr Dainton said he was "bitterly disappointed" by the length of time "it's taken to get to this point", but welcomed the council's new approach to the site.
He said: "It's an understatement to say that the site's not been looked after all these years.
"People living here have to put up with the stench, the smells and the water pollution.
"But the country park would be a massive asset, not just for the people of Altofts and Normanton, but the whole of the Wakefield district.
"I just hope it comes to fruition in my lifetime. I'm 77 now, and I'd like to see the end of it."
Local Democracy Reporting Service