PLANS to close Houghton Quarry landfill site 15 years ahead of schedule were today welcomed by residents in the town.
Site operator Biffa Waste Services last week announced it intends to end operations at the location within six months.
The firm added that plans are being drawn up to create a business park at the site which could play a significant role in boosting the area’s economy.
Councillors from the Residents Against Toxic Site (Rats) party, including Colin Wakefield and Sheila Ellis, who have been campaigning against the site or more than 10 years, said they “cautiously welcomed the news”.
But neighbours in the area were more enthusiastic.
Houghton resident Robert Straughan, of Burn Park Road, said the decision was in the best interests of the town.
The 62-year-old said: “While there is a need for landfill sites it has caused a lot of problems over the years, so I guess it’s better that it is to be closed.”
Christine Gaunt had a stronger opinion.
The Burns Avenue resident, 51, said: “Houghton needs it to be closed.
“There are flies everywhere and to be honest, the move for it to be closed has been a long time coming.
“Everyone hates it, so the sooner the better.”
Maria Hutchinson of Medway Close, in Fence Houses, said the landfill had affected the lives of residents.
She said: “The smell from the landfill is enough to put you off your food and drink, never mind the amount of flies you get swarming around because of it.”
Richard Curry, 64, of Dairy Lane, said: “It’s about time it is closed.
“I’ve certainly noticed an increase of flies in the summer and definitely the rancid smell.”
Tom Hannon, 67 who lives in The Oval in Houghton, said: “The flies are what we mainly notice.
“But these flies seem like they’re on steroids, even bug spray won’t kill them.
“I think it’s fantastic that it’s getting closed.”
June Armstrong, 58, of Lambton Drive, Hetton, said that she notices the awful smell when she visits Houghton.
“Combined with the rubbish from the landfill flying about the streets, it’s not a not very welcoming feature,” said Mrs Armstrong.