Residents protest over plan to re-open Rotherham tip containing toxic waste
Protesters rallied outside Rotherham Town Hall today, calling for the council to take action against the re-opening of a tip containing toxic waste.
Droppingwell Action Group believe that Rotherham Council missed a legal opportunity to prevent the tip from reopening in September this year – but officials say their hands are tied.
The Kimberworth tip closed in the 1990s and contains toxic industrial waste.
Permission for the site dates back to 1958, which has “very few restrictions, conditions or controls,” according to the council’s website.
The Environment Agency is allowing the site to be re-opened later this year, but campaigners are concerned this would disturb hazardous toxic waste in the existing tip, and are particularly worried about the welfare of the youngsters who play football at Millmoor Juniors Football Club, which is just meters away.
The Environment Agency issued a permit variation in 2016 that allowed Grange Landfill Ltd to use the site for landfill once again.
Droppingwell Action Group is concerned about the “significant” health and safety implications for residents if an estimated 205,000 tonnes of waste is to be deposited per year.
Steve McKenna, chairman of the group, says that the council does have the power to issue a discontinuation order, and that had the authority taken action a few years ago, the situation may have been “entirely different”.
Jacqui Tootill, area environment manager at Environment Agency told a meeting of Rotherham Council’s overview and scrutiny management board today (July 28) that the site is deemed “low-risk, and separate to the historic site”.
Ms Toothill added that of five site visits this year, one had been undercover, and that the Environment Agency has given the site a “higher profile” due to the concerns of the community.
Tom Smith, Rotherham Council’s assistant director, community safety and street scene told the meeting that should the council revoke planning permission, they could be liable to pay the owners of the site up to £20 million – which the council does not have.
Mr Smith added that a payment of this amount for a single decision may breach the council’s audit and financial regulations.
“The Secretary of State doesn’t believe that they can revoke that permission, because they believe the decision made in 1958 was the right one,” added Mr Smith.
“If the Secretary of State thinks that, it’s very difficult for the council to then think anything different. But we are now taking advice on that.”
Mr Smith has previously stated that the council has “consistently opposed the reopening of Droppingwell Tip.”
Mr McKenna said following the meeting that some councillors were “asking the right questions”, but added he is “frustrated” that there seems to be “talk and no action”.
“They need to step up and make decisions,” he added.