CONCERNED councillors have written to a planning inspector to express their anger over the time it is taking to hear an appeal about a controversial landfill site which they say is blighting the lives of residents.
Operators Alab Environmental Services had applied to extend the height of Seaton Meadows landfill site, in Brenda Road, Hartlepool, and revise its restoration plan.
But last July members of Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee went against officer recommendation and rejected the plans.
At the time Alab’s owners confirmed they would be appealing and warned it could leave the taxpayer footing a hefty legal fight.
But the appeal is yet to be heard and the deadline for submitting evidence has been extended to January 2014, amid fears it may not be heard until next summer.
Seaton ward councillors - independent councillors Paul Thompson and Cath Hill and Putting Hartlepool First member Kelly Atkinson - have written to the Planning Inspector expressing their concerns.
A planned hearing of August 1 was cancelled to allow more time for environmental information to be submitted.
The letter read: “On behalf of the three elected members and the vast number of residents who live in the area, we ask that this appeal is given priority due to the amount of time that this issue has dragged on for.”
It added: “Residents in the area were delighted when the application was refused for solid planning reasons and expected enforcement to be swiftly taken.
“Nothing has happened since.”
Councillors say the site has “blighted the landscape and lives of local residents” for several years.
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 six 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.
Last summer councillors 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 said the landfill is already too high and should not be allowed.
Coun Thompson added: “The residents just want a conclusion.”
Alab applied to extend the height of the post settlement by 24ft from the existing permission of 54ft to 78ft and representatives said the height would not extend beyond what it is now.
Committee members heard from the Environment Agency and the council’s public protection who warned reducing the current height could risk re-igniting the fires and there were also concerns about re-opening a landfill in terms of smell and vermin.
The landfill is still active until 2027 and the site will then be landscaped with grassland, wild flowers, trees and shrubs.