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Walley’s Quarry: Odorous Emissions

Volume 701: debated on Tuesday 19 October 2021

5. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the (a) short-term and (b) long-term impact on public health of the ongoing odorous emissions from Walley’s Quarry in Newcastle-under-Lyme. (903652)

I commend my hon. Friend for his tenacity on the issue of Walley’s Quarry and for continuing to stand up for his constituents. As part of the multi-agency response, the UK Health Security Agency provides expertise and support to the Environment Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. On 4 May, the Secretary of State took appropriate action, writing to the Environment Agency, which regulates the landfill operation, and urging it to use its regulatory and enforcement powers over Walley’s Quarry Ltd to resolve the problems at the site. It has been strongly recommended that the Environment Agency takes appropriate measures as early as possible to reduce offsite odours from the landfill site and to reduce the concentrations in local areas to levels below the health-based guidance values used to assess long-term exposure.

I welcome the Minister to her place. This ongoing public health emergency in Newcastle-under-Lyme has been a real trial for my constituents. Does she agree that in future the Environment Agency will need to take into account the effects on public health—both physical and mental health—of odorous emissions and the gases that escape from landfills, so that no other town has to go through what we have in the last year?

I assure my hon. Friend that the Environment Agency takes the situation very seriously and is working with the operators of the site to address it as quickly and effectively as possible. I am sure that he will be pleased to learn that the Environment Agency has re-evaluated its regulatory approach following the outcome of the judicial review, and on 14 October published its plan to reduce the levels of hydrogen sulphide emissions at the site.