Stinking landfill site 'is making entire town smell of rotten eggs'

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
The Walley's Quarry landfill site in Silverdale, Newcastle-under-Lyme. (James Morris)

A town’s landfill site smells so strongly of rotten eggs that homeowners have been left unable to open their windows.

People who live near Walley’s Quarry in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, told Yahoo News UK the stench is harming the town’s reputation.

Local MP Aaron Bell is among those who have called for action, telling Parliament that constituents have been left “retching” from the smell.

The site, which is in the built-up area of Silverdale, opened in 2007, but homeowners have reported the smell worsening in the past year.

'We actually have friends who have moved because of the smell.' Walley's Quarry in Newcastle-under-Lyme. (James Morris)

Owner Red Industries, which can use the site until 2026, said the landfill has passed its health and air quality tests.

However, campaigners are calling for the Environment Agency to be given greater powers to enforce against foul odours.

The gassy, rotten egg smell was present as Yahoo News UK spoke to neighbours on Monday.

Jose Paul, 51, said: “I don’t even know how to describe it [the smell]. I just know nobody likes it.

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“It’s really awful. Afternoons and evenings are the worst. Sometimes it comes into the house. I sign petitions but nothing changes.”

Hillary Beech, 53, said: “It’s embarrassing when you have friends round. In the summer you’ll be having a barbecue and it’s difficult to be honest with them when they ask what the smell is.

“Apparently it [the waste pile] is going to become a tower so we will soon be able to see it as well as smell it. We actually have friends who have moved because of the smell.”

Her husband Nicholas, 59, said the stench gets in the house “easily” if they leave a door or window open even for a short amount of time.

Red Industries owns the landfill site, which was formerly a clay extraction quarry. (James Morris)

He said he was recently working in nearby Stoke-on-Trent when he overheard people talking about Newcastle-under-Lyme and “how it is exposed to these smells”.

“They said: ‘I would hate to live round there!’ It is giving the whole area a bad reputation.”

Paul Copeland, 63, said: “We’ve been here 11 years. They tended to do something about it [the smell] at first but recently they doubled the capacity going into the place.

“Since they did that, you get this smell every day. You can’t open the windows unless you want it inside your house.”

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Jason Charnier, 21, said: “When you wake up, you want that fresh air in the morning when you open your window. We’re not getting that at all. You just get a sudden blast of that smell.

“On certain days it can get really bad – me and my housemates are complaining about it all the time.”

Barry Procter, 79, said: “It’s been there a number of years. It all depends on the wind direction whether it hits you or not.

“If I open my bedroom window in the morning, by the end of the day it’s filled with a very unpleasant egg smell. I’ve worked in the chemical industry long enough to know hydrogen sulphide when I smell it.”

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Newly elected Conservative MP Bell used a debate in Parliament last week to criticise Red Industries for being unwilling to concede it smells.

Bell said that even though the air quality levels are legal, the odour is affecting people’s quality of life and can even harm business in Newcastle town centre, one and a half miles away.

He claimed some of his constituents’ asthma has been made worse from the smell, and that the fallout has made surrounding communities feel “powerless”.

“We should be taking residents’ concerns much more seriously and odour, I believe, can cause significant mental health concerns among residents as well,” he said.

Red Industries said in a statement: “Red Industries operate a compliant landfill site in Silverdale.

“We echo the facts presented by environment minister, Rebecca Pow, in her thorough response to Mr Bell. The site operates under an environmental permit regulated by the Environment Agency and we have a detailed site management plan in place.

“The Environment Agency’s report into air quality in Silverdale is publicly available and shows emissions from Walley’s landfill to be within all relevant health and air quality limits.”

The statement added it “engages with the local community” by posting newsletters and inviting neighbours to visit the site.