Wakefield's Welbeck Landfill Site will be turned into a country park, council confirms

A plan to return a controversial rubbish tip to nature has been revealed.

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 12:55 pm
Could Welbeck be returned to nature?

The proposals could spell the beginning of the end for the Welbeck Landfill Site saga, which has rumbled on for more than 20 years.

The Normanton waste management facility has handled waste delivered from around the country since its opening and was fiercely opposed by campaign groups, including RATS (Residents Against Toxic Scheme).

The intention to transform the site into a green space had always been in the pipeline but more detailed plans have now been revealed.

Welbeck Landfill Site

Wakefield Council said a number of existing schemes at the site are already coming to fruition and include restoring footpaths, planting trees and creating woodland.

The local authority said that work would contribute to its climate change commitments and help to protect the environment.

Its long term aim will be to create another recreation space where residents can enjoy the great outdoors.

Announcing the plans yesterday, deputy council leader Jack Hemingway, who is also cabinet member for climate change and greenspaces, said: “I am delighted to announce today our intention to work alongside the operator at the Welbeck landfill site to improve the existing scheme and transform the site into a new country park for the benefit of the local community and the district as a whole.

The site has operated for more than 20 years

“These are long-term ambitions, but our commitment to the site is now clear and a matter of public record – Welbeck will become a country park.

“Positive discussions have already been held with the site operator and conceptual plans are being drawn up for what it might look like and the costs involved.

“Our intention is to fully consult and involve local groups and the community as we progress with this site and all our park areas.”

Coun Hemingway also made a commitment to improve and invest in other parks across the district. He said the council intended to create more green spaces, smaller areas of woodland, conservation areas, wildflower meadows, and entirely new parks.

Could Welbeck be turned into a country park like Pugneys?

He added: “Our parks and greenspaces have been more important than ever to our residents over the last year and we want to create even more opportunities for residents to get out and enjoy what our great district has to offer, whilst protecting the environment and fulfilling our commitment to help tackle climate change.”

Welbeck has processed rubbish for more than 20 years with the understanding that the site would be returned to nature after the lease – which has been extended to 2026 – was up.

In 2009 the Express reported that the then site operator breached the terms of its permit more than 50 times between 2003 and 2007, with incidents including gas emissions, powerful odours and failure to control harmful dust particles.

A regulator of the waste industry, the EA says it carries out site visits, spot checks and audits to ensure activities at Welbeck “do not place the environment at risk of harm”.

In recent years 1,000 homes were unexpectedly proposed to be built on the site and £1m in rent owed by the owners written off, in moves that were heavily criticised by RATS.