‘We will not be intimidated’: Campaigners to defy Walleys Quarry lawyers with further protests

Lawyers representing Walleys Quarry have sent a warning letter to campaigners ahead of planned protests this week against the management of the landfill - the source of thousands of odour complaints over the past two years.

The letter, from Squire Patton Boggs, sets an ultimatum for campaigners to agree in writing by 4pm that they “will not trespass on or interfere with [their client’s] property”. The agreement would also stipulate that the campaigners “do not carry out any protest activity on the highway around the site or the entrance of the site”.

Audrey from campaign group Stop the Stink, who received a copy of the letter, told BBC Radio Stoke she would “not be replying by 4pm”.

She said: “They have not given any of us enough time to receive legal advice as we only received the letters yesterday afternoon. I am not going to be intimidated along with the other [campaigners] and we are going to protest as normal tomorrow.”

Walleys Quarry says it “recognises that people have the right to protest peacefully” but urged the protesters to comply. If they do not, the company “will be left with no choice but to issue proceedings against the campaigners urgently seeking an injunction to restrain any further actions”.

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The lawyers writing on behalf of Walleys Quarry say the injunction would restrain protestors from entering or coming within the immediate vicinity of the site.

They say a breach of such an injunction could be punishable by imprisonment or fines.

Staffordshire Police have previously warned protesters they face arrest if they don't disperse when instructed.

Three protestors were arrested in September, leading to a councillor claiming that police action against the protesters appeared to be “planned, organised and premeditated”.

Walleys Quarry is currently appealing an abatement notice from Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, which designated the landfill as a statutory nuisance.

The notice would have required the operators - formerly known as Red Industries - to abate the odour nuisance by mid-January 2022 at the latest. 

The Environment Agency is also appealing a High Court ruling in September that the EA had failed to protect the life of a vulnerable five-year-old child over its regulation of the site.

A Walleys Quarry spokesperson said: “Our lawyers have simply reminded potential protestors of their responsibilities under the law, and of the rights of our business and our staff, towards whom we have a duty of care.

“Walleys Quarry Ltd operates under strict regulatory and legal guidelines,  that are enforceable by law. We expect those who are seeking to disrupt the operation of WQ to respect the right of our staff to go about their jobs peaceably and without fear of reprisals.”