Sunday, May 27, 2012

A ‘mistake’ blamed for gross over-tipping on Gilberdyke Landfill site

Spin, glossy photographs, breath-taking arrogance, errors and shocking confessions when confronted by the media and residents.  This was the Gilberdyke Landfill exhibition (public consultation event) held by Tip operators City Plant Ltd last Thursday.  If this was the Tip owners attempt to win over public support, then it completely backfired, especially when City Plant consultant and company front man Kevin Wanlass stated that the over tipping on the site to levels twice the permitted height was simply a mistake.  This incredible revelation was recorded and duly aired on Look North (see below).

So then, it all comes down to ‘a mistake’, a mistake that has made the faceless Directors of City Plant Ltd an absolute fortune - a fortune the majority of Gilberdyke and Newport residents can only dream about.  Money made through a cynical manipulation of the system, and shocking inaction by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) and particularly the Environment Agency (EA) as the two bodies that should have protected those residents.  In the eyes of many the ERYC and the EA have been at worse complicit and at best lacking courage, both having rolled over and allowed this whole sorry saga to continue, month after month.
It is clear the ‘mistake’ was made quite soon after City Plant Ltd became interested in the site. The single glaring question that needs to be answered is, when the ‘mistake’ was realised why did they not stop and take immediate action to rectify the situation? 
People are not stupid and the authorities should not treat them as such. The question residents rightly want answered is why, even after a ‘mistake’ was made, was the tipping of thousands upon thousands of tons of waste permitted to continue and the Company Directors allowed to make obscene amounts of cash?
It is not acceptable for the Company to come forward with the feeble attempt at an apology that we saw on Look North; I simply do not believe that the City Plant ‘unintentionally’ broke the planning conditions.  Why did they uncap previously capped off areas of the tip to add more waste – was that an accident too? We all know what the height condition was in the planning approval – I’ve chaired enough tip liaison group meetings with City Plant, ERYC Planners and the EA where the height of the tip and volumes of waste entering the site was discussed at length and I had stated that a compromise had to be reached where tipping of waste had to stop as soon as possible.  Needless to say, we have seen very little compromise from City Plant Ltd as they continued to rake in the cash.
So we are now to see a retrospective planning application submitted to the ERYC to allow the finished area of the Tip to remain at its present height, whilst allowing waste to be tipped until the remaining void space is deemed full at some time between November 2012 and Feb 2013.  Some would say this is planning through the back door and ask why it has been allowed to happen.
Not only is the Tip height greater than the planning consent, the profile is very different; the approved shape was for gently sloping sides to a relatively small top, but what we see now in something akin to Ayers Rock with steep sides and a large top. It does not take a genius to work out that this change of profile is a result of over-tipping gargantuan amounts of waste. The planning consent deals specifically with the visual amenity of the site (i.e. what it looks like) therefore the ERYC legal people have some questions to answer as to why this has been allowed to happen, and why enforcement has not been forthcoming.  Was this a result of a ‘mistake’ too?  The recently coined noun ‘omnishambles’ is one that springs to mind in this particular context.
To conclude on a positive note, the exhibition did include a timescale for the completion of the tip – tipping of waste would stop between November 2012 and February 2013 and capping and restoration completed by November 2013. So no more massive waste lorries entering the site after next February, and no more tipper wagons carrying restorative materials by November 2013 – a belated and small relief to the long-suffering residents of Gilberdyke and Newport.


John in Gilberdyke said...

Depend on any planning application to be vigorously opposed Paul. I would like EVERY resident to object to proposals to amend the consented height. If this means removal of material tough luck for the offenders! All removal traffic to be subject to stringent controls as to travel hours, size of vehicle, and independently monitored (properly this time) at the operators expense.
Weakness is just what Kevin Wanless and his associates have exploited at every turn.
It was unfortunate that the liaison committee was created as the operators simply used it as a method of kicking the problem into the long grass. Realistically did it achieve anything concrete or cause the operators to yield one single concession? I suggest not as there was never any will from the operators to treat the community with anything but contempt.
Even at this stage finishing waste tipping is not the end of the gravy train. Landfill gas power generation is already being mentioned with its attendant poisonous exhaust health hazards. Don't fall for the green hype!

Anonymous said...

I agree with John. The planning application must be vigorously opposed and the operators made to reduce the height to the consented limit.
City Plant have met the residents to explain their plan. We may not like it but at the very least they have (at last)made the effort to communicate. Would it be possible for you Paul and/or the Parish councils to persuade/invite those in authority at ERYCC Planning and EA to a local venue to meet the residents and to explain their actions?

Roy Hunt said...

Hi Paul

We know that City Plant Ltd. have systematically and blatantly tipped perhaps as much as 400,000 tonnes of material onto a site that had a stated capacity of 104,00 tonnes. This has been hugely profitable for them and unfortunately both the Environment Agency (EA) and ERYC seem to have hoisted the white flag when it has come to enforcement of environmental and planning conditions.

I really don't understand why City Plant Ltd has bothered with a retrospective planning application because both enforcement authorities seem to have given them the green light to do whatever they wish.

The recent exhibition was a very good example of the worst type of spin - the claims by Kevin Wanless of Niramax (a consulant to City Plant Ltd) were breathtaking in their insincerity. I liken their exhibition to someone who has built a huge estate of houses in a green belt area without planning consent, then asking for approval because the gardens will look nice.

If ERYC accept their planning approval they will be accepting that the 15 months of unlawful and hugely profitable tipping is perectly OK. They will also be setting a huge precedent for other cowboy operators to buy up an old landfill site, rip off the capping, thus exposing huge quantities of obnoxious gasses, more than doubling the lawful height and then rectifying the unlawfulness by simply applying for retrospective approval.

Both the EA and the ERYC have to realise the degree of negligence they are responsible for and draw the line under what is allowed to happen on this site. They both have to realise that between now and next February when City Plant say that they will end tipping, another 400,000 tonnes of waste may well have been added to the hundreds of thousands of tonnes already added. Are both bodies going to continue to turn a blind eye to these unlawful practices or are they going to take action to finally stop what has been going on.

Tipping has to stop now, not next year. If either the EA or the ERYC believes they can reach an arrangement with this company, I am sorry but they must be deluded to even consider they will be doing anything other than kicking this problem further down the road. I note that the huge plateau that is being developed on top of the site is currently uncapped and ripe for even further unlawful tipping into next year and quite possibly into future years if City Plant Ltd decide to change their businesss plan and continue to operate the site unlawfully.

Roy Hunt