Restoration of Sheffield landfill site 'taking too long', say residents

Parkwood Landfill, Sheffield.

Parkwood Landfill, Sheffield.

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Frustrated residents have questioned why a scheme to turn a Sheffield landfill site into a park is taking so long.

Waste and recycling firm Viridor is working with Sheffield Council to restore the dump in Parkwood Springs, and open up the area to the public as a 'country park'.

Parkwood Landfill, Sheffield.

Parkwood Landfill, Sheffield.

On Tuesday (September 20) councillors approved a revised plan for the site, which allowed Viridor to change the landscape as a result of lower-than-expected levels of landfill.

The firm hopes to finish the restoration work in 2020, with staggered public access from 2021.

But at the meeting, residents hoping to see the park soon expressed their frustration at the time the scheme was taking.

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Parkwood Landfill, Sheffield.

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Neill Schofield, chairman of the Friends of Parkwood Springs group, said the area could form a 'country park' within a city.

"The landfill site is sitting in the middle of this area and at the moment it's a real barrier to linking the northern and southern sections," he said.

Mr Schofield said Viridor had created an 'expectation' in its original plans that the public would be able to access the site as soon as it was restored.

"That makes me think reasonably soon afterwards," he added.

As part of the restoration work, a cap will be placed over the landfill, with earth piled on top, and a network of pipes installed to remove methane gas produced as waste decomposes. The gas is turned into electricity. Viridor said the gas infrastructure would have to be removed before public access could be granted.

"We have been told it could be 30 years or more before access is allowed in some areas," said Mr Schofield.

"We also understand that it's hard for the planning committee to do much. If that's the case then we support a condition for a public access plan that would be updated every two years."

Paul Ancliffe, who has lived by the site for almost 50 years, said it was a 'magical mystery' why the public couldn't access it.

Viridor's director of communications and external affairs Dan Cooke said the firm was pleased the revised plan had been approved. He said Parkwood had stopped accepting landfill in 2014, four years earlier than expected, but ground levels were still being built up.

"Viridor will retain responsibility for the site throughout the restoration programme which will follow the infilling phase, with initial restoration expected to take two years," he said.

"It is expected that limited public access will be made available within a year of completion of the restoration works.

"Following this period, Viridor will maintain responsibility for the site to ensure environmental control whilst it continues to generate electricity, and to operate landfill gas and other site infrastructure. As a responsible operator, it is unlikely that full public access would be given before this is removed.

"As agreed within the public access timetable in the approved restoration scheme, the area will be reviewed on a biennial basis with access to pathways and public interest areas being introduced as soon as possible.”

Mr Cooke said the restored site would comprise woodland, scrub, wildflower grassland together and seasonal wetlands. Retained woodland and heathland would be managed to encourage biodiversity. A number of paths for pedestrians and cyclists would be built.

Full details are online at www.viridor.co.uk/our-developments/parkwood.

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