The odours from Walleys Quarry in Silverdale, Newcastle-under-Lyme, run by Red Industries, has been the source of much anguish for residents, who say their complaints have been largely ignored by the Environment Agency.
But between 5 and 11 April the agency received 1,168 reports of smells in the area, according to local media reports, prompting the regulator to visit the site on Tuesday.
At the end of March, the Environment Agency said it was already receiving high numbers of complaints and that it recognised the difficulties being experienced by the residents of Silverdale over the quarry, which has permission to receive waste until 2026.
An agency inspection, made the same month, identified two breaches of the company’s permit. The first related to Red Industries not taking all appropriate measures to prevent waste odours at levels likely to cause pollution outside the site, and the second breach related to its management system and operating procedures being the main cause of the odour.
The agency has given the firm until 30 April to make improvements that would allow it to come back into compliance with its permits.
Earlier in March, Red Industries announced it would temporarily curtail its waste operations at the site to “accelerate the programme of extensive capping work”.
However, the EA said until the capping works and associated gas management actions are completed, there would still be odours from the site.
In early March, Aaron Bell, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons in a bid to set limits for odorous emissions from landfill sites.
A spokesperson for Red Industries said: “We can confirm that the Environment Agency visited Walleys Quarry on Tuesday 13 April to review progress on the accelerated programme of capping and other engineering works being undertaken on the site.
“We are aware of the number of complaints from the community in Newcastle-under-Lyme. The rate of capping is on plan for completion, as agreed with the regulator, by 30 April 2021.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We recognise the ongoing difficulties that odour has caused in Silverdale, Newcastle-under-Lyme and the surrounding areas. We take all reports and complaints very seriously and are working with other organisations to do everything we can to reduce odours. As part of our ongoing regulation, we continue to inspect the site and surrounding areas on a regular basis.
“We are working closely with partners from Public Health England, Newcastle-Under-Lyme Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council to share information, including data from our air quality monitoring, so that they can assess health implications of the odour."