‘Work with us’ plea to landfill site owners

Seaton Meadows Landfill. Picture by FRANK REID
Seaton Meadows Landfill. Picture by FRANK REID

COUNCIL bosses have called on the operators of a controversial landfill site to work with them after plans to increase its height were rejected.

Alab Environmental Services applied to extend the height of Seaton Meadows landfill site, in Hartlepool, and revise its restoration plan.

But the plans were rejected by Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Email the newsdesk or telephone the newsdesk on (01429) 239380.

Alab’s owners have since confirmed they are appealing the decision and warned the local authority it could be facing another costly legal battle.

The council had to pay £470,000 towards parent company Able UK’s costs over the controversial “ghost ships” issue.

Speaking after the meeting, Andrew Jacques, managing director of Able UK, said: “The decision flies in the face of the facts and given that we will, without question, be appealing the decision, the council taxpayer again risks facing a hefty legal bill in seeking to defend the indefensible.”

Now the council has urged Alab to work with them to resolve the situation.

Planning officers say the application arose from the fact Alab had exceeded the terms of the existing planning permission by over-tipping primarily to tackle fires on the site.

A council spokesman said: “The planning committee considered and discussed at length the council officers’ report and recommendation and also representations from Alab Environmental Services and from members of the public who also attended the committee meeting.

“After careful consideration, the planning committee took the view that it could not support the application for a number of reasons, and in particular because:

● The recently-adopted minerals and waste plan for the Tees Valley advises that there is no need for additional capacity for landfilling at this time;

● It was felt that the resultant higher landfill mound would have an incongruous appearance in this flat coastal location.

“The planning committee felt that the short-term environmental issues which might arise from the removal of the overtipped waste would not outweigh these concerns.

“The council would urge Alab Environmental Services to work with it to resolve the situation through appropriate remedial work on the site.”

Alab applied to the council after the height of the waste exceeded the limits allowed under current permission after tackling fires at the site in Brenda Road five years ago.

In order to tackle the blazes, burning waste was removed from the seat of the fire and spread on the top of an adjacent waste area, where active tipping had been completed, and it was treated to stop it burning.

Committee members heard the operators feared if they have to reduce the height it could risk re-igniting the fires by exposing the waste below to oxygen, so applied to increase the height.

But objectors, including Seaton Carew residents, say the landfill is already too high and should not be allowed.

The landfill site, which is still active until 2027, will eventually be landscaped with grassland, wild flowers, trees and shrubs.