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Council backs injunction bid against Gething’s ‘dodgy donor’

09 May 2024 5 minute read
Withyhedge Landfill site entrance. Photo via Google

Martin Shipton

Members of Pembrokeshire County Council have backed legal action seeking an injunction over noxious odours from a landfill site against a firm whose parent company donated £200,000 to Vaughan Gething’s Welsh Labour leadership campaign.

Resources Management (UK) Ltd is part of the Cardiff-based Dauson Environmental Group, which made the controversial donation. Its owner is David Neal, who has previously received two suspended prison sentences for dumping toxic sludge in the Gwent Levels, a sensitive wetland landscape near Newport.

Residents who live close to the Withyhedge landfill site near Haverfordwest have been complaining for many months about the smells emanating from the site.

Enforcement action

Now the council has endorsed enforcement action against the firm after receiving legal advice from a senior barrister..

A letter of claim sent by the council to Resources Management states: “The council is disappointed that you have failed to abate the nuisance despite five months’ notice and your ‘hope’ that the malodour would stop by April 5 2024.

“The council is not prepared to let this nuisance continue at the expense of the public. The council now intends to seek an injunction prohibiting you from wrongfully causing or permitting noxious and offensive gases to escape from the landfill.

“In March 2022, ownership of RML passed to Dauson Environmental Group from Potter Group. It is noteworthy that Mr David John Neal is your director and the director at Dauson.

“He has been twice prosecuted for environmental offences in south Wales. Around November 2023, the council began receiving complaints about a malodour escaping from the landfill and adversely affecting residents. Initially, our pollution control team directed complaints to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) because of its role as the environmental regulator, but the sudden volume of complaints prompted the council to contact NRW itself in early December.

“To date the council has received 62 complaints about a malodour escaping from the landfill. NRW have received around 2400, with a daily average of 30 and range of 100. NRW will be able to confirm the exact number of complaints it has received through its Wales Incident Reporting System (“WIRS”) and we intend to rely on both figures in court proceedings.

“Throughout December 2023 and January 2024, NRW and the council held discussions, visited the landfill and carried out off-site odour monitoring. Additionally, the council sought advice from Public Health Wales (PHW” as health concerns were raised by anxious residents. A multi-agency Air Quality Cell was set up in February 2024, including NRW, PHW, the local health board and the council.”

Malodour

The letter continues: “NRW, as environmental regulator, determined that the malodour had escaped the site boundary in breach of conditions in your environmental permit. They duly served you an enforcement notice on February 13 2024. The notice required you to carry out several actions, all of which were to be completed by April 5 2024.

“On March 26 2024, Mr David Neal and Mr Ben Maizey attended a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee. They apologised, accepted that there is a malodour, that it has caused in Mr Neal’s words an ‘inconvenience to businesses’, and that there had been over-tipping. They stated that the malodour would stop by April 5 2024. You failed to abate the nuisance by April 5 2024. You published a statement on April 19 2024 confirming that ‘odour issues still persist’. NRW agree and have since served you with another enforcement notice.

“You are required to carry out several actions, all of which are to be completed by May 14 2024. “The total number of occasions of escaping malodour and its extent are too many to elaborate here. However, the council shall be able to rely on extensive witness testimony, monitoring and contemporaneous documents from itself, NRW and you to prove (i) that malodour escaped the landfill and (ii) that this adversely affected a swathe of residents of the county.

“The council’s case is straightforward. In causing or permitting noxious and offensive gases to escape the landfill in the manner set out above, you are committing the tort of public nuisance. You have interfered with residents’ normal use and enjoyment of their own land (and in particular during the night and early morning when temperatures are low) as the malodour prevents them, for example, from using their gardens, opening windows, inviting guests round, and engaging in outdoor sports and recreation, amongst other things;

“You have caused or will cause physical harm to residents of the county as the malodour sometimes induces nausea; You have caused or will cause psychological harm to residents of the county as the malodour causes worry, stress, anxiety, anger, annoyance, and depression; You have caused or will cause financial harm to residents of the county that operate businesses, particularly in hospitality, as the malodour discourages tourism and interferes with ordinary course of business.

You have caused or will cause economic harm to the county as a whole, as the malodour discourages tourism and investment; You have caused or will cause reputational harm to the county as a whole.”

Resource Management has until May 14 to respond.

Meanwhile NRW is pursuing enforcement action against the firm.

Disappointing

Cllr Aled Thomas, the Welsh Conservative group spokesman for the environment said: “It’s disappointing, but unsurprising, that it has taken Pembrokeshire County Council this long to take some action against RML, given the fact that the council’s deputy leader was a supporting nominee for Vaughan Gething’s leadership campaign.

“The Withyhedge site stinks – both physically and metaphorically – due to the owner’s donations to the First Minister’s leadership campaign.

It’s time now that serious and significant action was taken by the Welsh Labour government once and for all so the people of Pembrokeshire can have a quality of life back.”


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Keri
Keri
13 days ago

Vaughan Gething has to go.

Llyn
Llyn
13 days ago
Reply to  Keri

Why does Vaughan Gething have to step down as First Minister? BTW I think he should give back/give to charity the £200k donation or what remains.

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