Agency:We got it wrong

THE Environment Agency admitted it made mistakes in its handling of communications over the controversial landfill site at Warboys. Three representatives from the Environment Agency met members of the Warboys Landfill Action Group (WLAG) on Friday at a

THE Environment Agency admitted it "made mistakes" in its handling of communications over the controversial landfill site at Warboys.

Three representatives from the Environment Agency met members of the Warboys Landfill Action Group (WLAG) on Friday at a meeting chaired by Shailesh Vara, the MP for North West Cambridgeshire.

Paul Woodcock, regional director, Chris Howes, area manager, and John Orr, project manager for Warboys, agreed mistakes had been made in dealing with the site in Puddock Hill where there is a quarter of a million tons of toxic waste.

Mr Orr, environment manager at the agency, told The Hunts Post: "We acknowledge that things could have been done better on a number of fronts, particularly the communication that took place."


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One of the chief concerns of people in Warboys is that the site has already changed hands several times and, as yet, current owner Woodford still does not have a permit to process non-hazardous waste at the site.

The action group discovered at the end of last year that Woodford had not applied for a permit. For six months, WLAG had understood that a new permit had been applied for. However, last winter it emerged that the company had instead - with the backing of the Environment Agency - taken the cheaper route of applying to modify an old licence for hazardous waste.

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The action group was advised that the modification had no standing in law, and offered the villagers no protection if there were any breaches of its terms. At the beginning of this year, the company was obliged to start from scratch with the costly business of applying for a new permit.

Chairman of the action group, Betty Ball, said: "When we were faced with the financial collapse of (previous owners) Fenside Waste in 2005, there was no authority with a clearly understood responsibility to deal with the problems and safeguard local people. It was confirmed at the meeting that this is still unclear."

Mr Orr said it was Woodford's responsibility "to see the thing through" and he hoped a new permit would be presented to the village for consultation within the next six to eight weeks.

He thought the site would be operational for up to another four years. "The toxic waste will stay there. It is safe and there is no risk of leakage," he said.

This is a contrary view to that of the Internal Drainage Board, which has expressed fears the waste could leach into the nearby farmland.

Mr Howes said: "I was very pleased to have the opportunity to talk to local people about the landfill site and to hear their views.

"There is a lot of common ground between us - we all want to see the site completed and restored in an environmentally safe and well regulated way."

The Environment Agency gave an undertaking to improve communication in future.

However, Mrs Ball said the action group "had a sense of déjà vu" at this. She said: "The Environment Agency made the same promise two years ago with no noticeable improvements in openness or communication."

The Environment Agency said the new draft permit would be out for consultation at the beginning of December and that, if the permit failed to meet the action group's concerns, another meeting would take place.

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