Report finds catalogue of breaches at Welbeck

A CATALOGUE of environmental breaches saw the operators of Welbeck landfill site break permit rules 56 times in four years, it has been discovered.

A worrying list of incidents at the Altofts tip includes gas emissions, fires, powerful odours and failure to control harmful dust particles.

Documents passed to the Express show site operator Welbeck Waste Management Ltd (WWML) repeatedly breached the terms of its environmental permit between 2003 and 2007.

And they reveal government watchdog the Environment Agency (EA), which monitors the site, gave the Boundary Lane tip the worst possible rating for complying with the permit.

The information came from an investigation into the EA's monitoring of the tip by the National Audit Office. Its report was obtained by action group Residents Against Toxic Scheme (RATS).

RATS president Paul Dainton said the EA should have taken stronger action to prevent permit breaches.

He said: "The Environment Agency has done everything within its power to prevent RATS and the public from viewing this damning information.

"RATS has been condemned for many years as scaremongers regarding the disgraceful management of Welbeck and the abject failure by the EA to monitor and enforce site licence conditions.

"This bundle of papers completely vindicates the statements and actions of RATS during the past 10 years."

The bundle shows 10 occasions when WWML was warned over gas emissions from the site, six odour incidents and six failures to control litter.

Jacqui Tootill, the EA's manager for Welbeck, said: "Improving standards at Welbeck has been one of our top priorities and we have worked closely with residents and WWML on a series of issues. As a result, the landfill has seen significant improvements over the past two years."

She said complaints about the site had reduced significantly, falling from 62 in 2007 to 19 in 2008.

Colin Fletcher, WWML regional operations manager, said some of the breaches were minor and had been dealt with on the same day, while others required long-term investments including gas wells and litter nets.

He added: "Investments such as these are scheduled to take place annually and are part of WWML's commitment to operating the site to high environmental standards."