Life in 'UK's smelliest village' where kids 'struggle to breathe' 5 years on from first complaint

-Credit: (Image: SWNS)
-Credit: (Image: SWNS)

Families living in the 'UK’s smelliest neighbourhood' say they feel like they are being 'gassed' - despite waste deliveries to the nearby complaint-hit landfill site being halted. Locals say the fumes from Walleys Quarry in Silverdale leave a foul odour of 'bad eggs', making them ill and seriously affecting their quality of life.

The reek was so bad waste deliveries were suspended in April. Despite the halt on waste coming into the site, more than 1,000 complaints about smells wafting into people's homes are made every month.

Fed-up locals are continuing to demand the Environment Agency investigates the smells which are caused by the release of hydrogen sulfide gas. Mum-of-two Audrey Young, 48, who lives a mile away from the site, said: “If you look at the bigger picture, there’s nearly a complaint per average household.

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“It’s like you’re being gassed in your own home. It causes a lot health implications. We’ve got the highest rate of breathing difficulties in the country. We’ve got the highest number of COPD and lung cancer rates.

“I lost my mum to COPD and it’s not that common. It’s like you know everyone you know has it. A lot of counties have it and we're the worst.

"The rubbish comes from places as far away as Scotland. They pass 51 landfills to get here. Some companies send at least 10 loads a day. There’s medical waste and animal waste from abattoirs.

Protestor Audrey Young outside Walleys Quarry landfill site in Silverdale -Credit:SWNS
Protestor Audrey Young outside Walleys Quarry landfill site in Silverdale -Credit:SWNS

“During Covid I was working in care and all we could do was smell the landfill. My daughter gets nose bleeds. We get a lot of younger children getting bleeds.

“We’ve had to get air purifiers which are expensive. We’re having to keep our plugs in the bath sink and keep the toilet seat down.

“We can’t go into our gardens in the summer. As well as that we can’t invite people to our homes. We get embarrassed. It’s mortifying. There are two investigations going on but we’re still waiting on the outcome.”

The Stop the Stink protest group was launched to pressure authorities to take action, but with limited success. Simmo Burgess, 45, who lives Knutton, joined the campaign group in 2019.

Protestor Simmo Burgess outside Walleys Quarry landfill site in Silverdale -Credit:SWNS
Protestor Simmo Burgess outside Walleys Quarry landfill site in Silverdale -Credit:SWNS

The dad-of-three said: "We've been fighting the battle for clean air for five years. The gases from the landfill site have been proven to be consistently above WHO guidelines.

"We have met with numerous Government ministers to no avail. The whole community suffers almost daily breathing in toxic fumes. They have always reported, mainly to the Environment Agency and also our local council but reporting has dropped due to report fatigue.

“No one is listening to the complaints. All promises and no action. The gases seep into our homes, with windows and doors shut. Eggy, sulphur, rotting flesh smells. Makes your eyes sting.

“It causes nausea and headaches. The young, the old and vulnerable inhaling the gas which exacerbates existing conditions. Just driving and walking around the area, you can hit a 'pocket' if gas which can take your breath away and make your eyes stream.

Walleys Quarry landfill site in Silverdale -Credit:SWNS
Walleys Quarry landfill site in Silverdale -Credit:SWNS

“Unless you leave the area there is no escape. This waste is transported from hundreds of miles away, why?

"We have evidence they have buried hazardous waste destined for disposal in Europe to save themselves the export costs. The site should be managed by a legitimate company who will manage the gases properly.

"The owners should be prosecuted for their actions, not for the first time, and laws made to make sure this never happens again anywhere. The full extent of this environmental disaster will come to light in years to come."

People say the smell caused by the Silverdale site creates gas pockets and burns their eyes. The Environment Agency suspended deliveries to the site in March after odour complaints hit 4,210 in February.

Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council has asked the Government for permission to take legal action against the site.

Councillor Andy Fear, said the process would now be delayed by next month’s general election. Council leader Simon Tagg, said the quarry was not being run "in a good way to stop the odours coming out, and that’s always been the case".

A spokesperson for Walleys Quarry said the site was “stringently regulated by the Environment Agency to ensure the onsite activities do not cause harm to human health or the environment.”

They added that the site “continually inspected the waste deliveries and activities on the landfill to ensure that odour risks are managed, minimised and eradicated.”

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