Furious residents’ submit petition against controversial landfill plans

Prospective candidates Ann Owens (centre) Gemma Taylor  (right) hand over a petition against Biffa plans to use the site at Houghton for another 17 years, to Coun. Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council.
Prospective candidates Ann Owens (centre) Gemma Taylor (right) hand over a petition against Biffa plans to use the site at Houghton for another 17 years, to Coun. Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council.
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OUTRAGED residents handed over a petition against plans to extend the use of a controversial landfill site.

Biffa has applied for planning permission to continue dumping waste at Houghton Quarry for another 17 years as its current term draws to a close.

But fed-up residents are furious, saying they have had enough of the eyesore, which they claim is causing water pollution and bad smells.

Planners and councillors at Sunderland City Council must now decide whether or not to grant waste company Biffa permission to continue.

Houghton Labour members Gemma Taylor and Ann Owen handed a petition bearing hundreds of names to council leader Paul Watson calling for the plans to be thrown out.

Gemma, 27, from Fence Houses, said: “It was Tyne and Wear County Council that give the permission to Biffa, not Sunderland Council.

“Not one Sunderland Council lorry or wagon visits or uses the landfill.

“The whole planning process set by the law of the land has been loaded in favour of the waste disposal industry, but the current application is a golden opportunity for the public to express a view.

“We believe if a refusal is made by the council and is not overturned on appeal by the applicants, it will alter the economics of tipping on the site and hasten the day when operations cease.”

Gemma was confident that the petition will make a difference to the decision.

She said: “We are quite positive we can make a difference, we have time to keep campaigning and there are plenty more people for us to reach in Houghton.”

The pair have collected more than 600 signatures in a bid to get the council to refuse Biffa planning permission to extend its licence.

Ann, 56, from Houghton, said: “We have been campaigning hard to collect signatures, as we want to do something for our community.

“We have experienced a decade of rhetoric and accusation of blame over the issue that has not stopped one load of landfill being delivered to the quarry.

She added: “This is a moment when the message needs to be clear and united.

Ann said: “The date for the end of landfill needs to be determined. We hope our petition puts the pressure on the council to say no, which will determine the date.”

Biffa is allowed to dispose of non-hazardous domestic, commercial and industrial and inert waste.

The firm was initially given planning permission in 1985 to deepen part of the former limestone quarry between Houghton and Newbottle, and restore it and started operating as a landfill site in 1997.

Bosses now say it is essential to extend the scheme as it has been unable to fulfil the terms of the planning permission granted by Tyne and Wear County Council.

It said the site is not yet full and it has been unable to carry out the restoration.

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