Neighbours will fight 17 years’ more ‘misery’ at Biffa landfill site

Coun Colin Wakefield at Houghton Quarry.

Coun Colin Wakefield at Houghton Quarry.

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FURIOUS residents have pledged to fight plans to extend the life of a controversial landfill site.

Waste company Biffa has lodged an application with Sunderland City Council to continue dumping waste at Houghton Quarry for another 17 years as its current terms draws to a close.

The move has come as a bitter blow to residents, who claim the landfill site – dubbed the “stinking eyesore” – has polluted the environment and their lives for years.

Coun Colin Wakefield, chairman of Residents Against Toxic Waste, said: “I am really, really disappointed that the people of Houghton face another 17 years of misery while Biffa face another 17 years of profit.

“There are going to be a lot of people who will be very angry about this.

“Why they should have to put up with this for a total of 30 years is total madness. People shouldn’t have to.

“We will fight it every step of the way.”

Biffa was initially given planning permission in 1985 to deepen part of the former limestone quarry between Houghton and Newbottle, and restore it. It 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 scheme.

David Heaton, Biffa’s north general manager, said: “We have asked to extend this planning permission because the site it not yet full and the approved restoration scheme which we are required to complete under the terms of the planning consent cannot be completed by the original date.

“We feel it is important that the site is correctly restored, in accordance with the current permission, even though it will now take longer to achieve that.”

Biffa said because the original planning permission was granted in 1985 and it did not buy the site until 1997, coupled with an increase in recycling efforts, it is taking longer to fill the site than planned.

Colin Clark, head of planning and property at Sunderland City Council, said: “The application will be considered on its merits having regard to national and local planning policies and other material considerations.”

Neighbours will be consulted.

A date has not yet been set for the application to go before the planning committee.

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

To see the planning application, go to website www.sunderland.gov.uk or visit the Fawcett Street customer service centre or Houghton Library.

Twitter: @sunechochief