ANGRY neighbours met to speak out over controversial plans to extend the life of a 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.
Opponents of the move packed out Kepier Hall in Houghton to voice their concerns, along with councillors Colin Wakefield, Sheila Ellis and Derrick Smith.
Coun Wakefield, chairman of Residents Against Toxic Waste, said: “There is overwhelming support that the council don’t grant any planning extension.”
He said smells from the site were having a massive impact on homes and businesses in the area, while residents complained that rats were invading their gardens.
“Why they should have to put up with this for a total of 30 years is total madness. People shouldn’t have to,” he said.
“We will fight it every step of the way.”
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.
More than 500 people have formally objected to the proposals.
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. They have also said the site is not yet full and they have been unable to carry out the restoration scheme.
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 area 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.”
A date has not yet been set for the application to go before the planning committee.
Biffa is allowed to dispose of 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.