SITA UK, one of the country's leading recycling and waste management companies, today (29 July) welcomed Northumberland County Council's support for its planning application for an extension to the landfill site at Seghill, close to the Northumberland county border with North Tyneside.
Although the county council has given its approval, the company must wait until the 14 August when North Tyneside also considers the application.
In addition, both Northumberland County Council and North Tyneside Council have been served with an Article 14 Notice by the Government Office for the North East (GONE) which effectively prevents them activating any approvals of the planning application whilst government officers consider representations made by Blyth Valley Borough Council.
SITA UK's General Manager John Grainger said: “I am very pleased that county councillors have given approval for this important application, but disappointed that the Article 14 Notice could introduce further delay to this application.
“This application has already been with the authorities for three years and any further delay would be most unfortunate.”
North Tyneside Council has an interest in the application because although the landfill operations are within Northumberland, much of the screening and landscaping area, and the planned new access road are in that borough.
The proposed landfill extension will cover a site of 19 hectares of agricultural land to the east of the existing site. A specially created 49 hectare landscaping area, will surround the proposed extension and will shield the site from the surrounding area.
The plan also involves the construction of a new £2.5million access road and bridge into the landfill site from a new purpose-built junction on the B1322. This would mean that dramatically fewer lorries would travel through residential areas in the village of Seghill
Since its original submission was put together in 2005, SITA UK has put in place a range of measures designed to minimise the impact of the extension and improve the surrounding local environment. These include:
• creating a new country park called Holywell Woods to the south of the site between it and the village of Backworth. It will be a mix of publicly accessible woodland, grassland and hedgerows reached by a new network of footpaths and car park;
• creating a new 2km off-road cycle route along the old Mineral Railway route to take cyclists off the road through Backworth. The new route will link up with the existing and highly popular Reivers cycle route, which runs from the A19 underpass to the east of Backworth;
• an advance planting programme which will include 27 new hectares of woodlands, 2.7km of new or improved hedgerows and 64 new avenue trees, all designed to shield the site from view during operational years;
• removing the existing watercourse and creating an attractive new 1.7km long stream to extend the natural habitat of water voles and otters in the area;
• enhancing and extending 5km of bridleways around the site; and
• creating almost 2.5km of footpaths to provide alternative routes between the local communities and across the surrounding area. This will include a new footbridge over Seaton Burn within Holywell Dene.
The detailed Restoration and Aftercare Management Plan submitted by SITA UK as part of its planning application, clearly states that SITA UK will be responsible for the management of the landfill area for many years after the site is closed, and that it also maintains the Holywell Woods area for 20 years.
John Grainger added: “We have listened to the concerns of local people and our revised plans show that we have brought forward large parts of the screening and landscaping work so it takes place either before the landfill site is operational or during its early years. This will minimise the local impact.
“Although priority is now being given to waste minimisation and recycling, a very substantial quantity of waste will still need to be landfilled. Waste production in the North-East continues to increasie and the region needs well run, quality sites like Seghill Landfill, to ensure that the waste is managed safely and effectively. Seghill Landfill has been identified in Northumberland County Council's Waste Local Plan as a key strategic landfill site to meet ongoing disposal requirements.”
If it gets the final go-ahead from North Tyneside Council on 14 August and the question of the Article 14 Notice is resolved, work on the extension will start immediately.
The extension will be operated strictly in accordance with the Landfill Directive, the prime legislation governing landfill activities, which requires high standards of engineering and operational activities consistent with best modern practices. The site will be audited on a regular basis by the Environment Agency.
Seghill Landfill site has been in use since the late 1950s. The 50-hectare site is currently operating to a planning permission that was granted in 1989, at which time tipping operations were anticipated to continue until 2014.