Biffa pull out of plans to extend controversial Houghton Quarry landfill site

The entrance to the Biffa waste landfill site at Houghton.
The entrance to the Biffa waste landfill site at Houghton.
Have your say

WASTE firm Biffa has pulled out of plans to extend the life of a controversial landfill site.

Houghton Quarry dump has long been a bugbear of residents in the town who complain it attracts vermin and emits a foul stench.

Operators Biffa were fined £27,000 in 2011 after residents kicked up a stink about the smell, and were hit with another £90,000 penalty last year after waste from the site was found to have polluted the water supply.

The company had been bidding to continue tipping and landfilling at the site for another 17 years, which was met with outrage from residents.

Now Sunderland City Council has announced it is contacting objectors to inform them the firm had withdrawn its planning application.

Councillor Mel Speding, Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Secretary, said: “The council has been more than aware of the strong feelings that the site’s neighbours have always had.

“It was not the city council that gave the permission for landfill operations here. The City Council has had as many questions as residents have had about the tipping works.

“An end is now in sight to landfill works here and only inert waste, which doesn’t produce any chemical reaction, is currently being tipped.

“After restoration, Biffa has consent to develop the site for employment and business use so in the future we can look to Houghton Quarry providing and making a more positive contribution to our community.”

Since Biffa lodged its application plans in 2011, it has been consulting with the council.

The site is permitted to accept non-hazardous domestic, commercial, industrial and inert waste, and conditions are that it is restored in accord with an agreed scheme.

These permissions and restoration scheme are valid for the next five years.

The landfill site is a former limestone quarry between Houghton and Newbottle and planning permission was granted in 1985 by Tyne and Wear County Council.

It opened as an operational landfill in 1997 and 2,731 people contacted the council when Biffa lodged its 2011 extension application.