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First Minister grilled over stinking landfill site

18 Jun 2024 3 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething – Image Senedd Cymru

Emily Price

First Minister Vaughan Gething has been grilled in the Senedd over a stinking landfill site which is owned by the convicted polluter who donated a huge sum to his leadership campaign.

Residents who live close to the Withyhedge site near Haverfordwest have been complaining for months about the noxious odours emanating there which have left locals “on all fours throwing their guts up”.

It’s owned by Resources Management (UK) Ltd which is part of the Cardiff-based Dauson Environmental Group which made the controversial £200,000 donation to the First Minister’s campaign to become Welsh Labour leader.

The company’s owner, David Neal, has previously received two suspended prison sentences for dumping toxic sludge in the Gwent Levels – a sensitive wetland area near Newport.

Pembrokeshire County Council has backed legal action seeking an injunction over the site after receiving legal advice from a senior barrister and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is pursuing enforcement action against the firm.

Several demonstrations have been staged by locals protesting the stench.

A demonstration against the stench coming from the Withyhedge landfill site.

‘Disgrace’

During questions to the First Minister on Tuesday, Aberconwy MS Janet Finch-Saunders branded the “awful environmental pollution” at the Withyhedge landfill site “disgrace”.

She said: “NRW has been unable to clarify the compliance of Mr Neal’s company -somebody you know very well operating the Withyhedge landfill site, because the company has failed to file the necessary paperwork.

“NRW also now note that there is now no deadline for the paperwork, further perpetuating the pollution of Pembrokeshire residents. This is a disgrace.”

‘Clinging on’

She went on to slam the First Minister for “clinging on to power” after a vote of no confidence and his links to the owner of the landfill.

The Tory MS said: “Given the mockery, this situation makes it worse – and the fact that you have lost all credibility and legitimacy as the First Minister.”

Responding, the embattled FM said he was not “directly engaged” with matter as it was being overseen by Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs.

He said: “As the regulator, they (NRW) need to work with the site operator, they need to work with local public health authorities and with the council with the different responsibilities they have. I expect them to do that to deliver improvement.

“There’s no different standard to be applied to this operator or any other, and in fact, this Government will go on to improve standards for environmental regulation to make sure that the polluter really does pay where there’s a breach of those standards.

He went on to say that he is “proud” that Wales is “much further ahead” in areas of environmental regulation than England is.

Registered

The opening weeks of the First Minister’s tumultous tenure have been plagued by questions about the donation he accepted from the Whithyhedge owner.

Mr Gething maintains that all donations had been registered and recorded appropriately.

Several Cabinet Secretaries including Mr Gething’s competitor in the race for First Minister, Jeremy Miles, admitted they would not have taken the money.

An internal review will be carried out by former First Minister Carwyn Jones to look at internal Welsh Labour processes.


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A.Redman
A.Redman
25 days ago

It is “Teflon Tony” style of governance.” Not me guv” the buck stops at the top and VG should be well aware of that.Accept criticism as well as praise.As for having the Previous First Minister overseeing the review of VG’s dealings ,words fail!!!!

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
25 days ago

The £200,000 has caused VG to forget who he actually represents!

Why vote
Why vote
25 days ago

Just ask your mate what’s going on then you can report to the senedd just like a puppet.

Paul Symons
Paul Symons
25 days ago

VG might have ticked all the right boxes and technically hasn’t broken any rules regarding this donation. But he’s proven his bad judgment. You can still be driving a car within the speed limit and crash because you were driving too fast for the road conditions. By taking this rogue’s money he has given the impression that he is now ‘owned’ by Mr Neal. VG is not a naive man, He is a solicitor. He has behaved stupidly and has shown that he is not up to the job. If he behaved like that in any other job he’d be… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
25 days ago

Such an awful situation for the residents. How can it be allowed. Surely criminal charges should be brought against the owner Mr Neil with hefty compensation claims against him by the residents.
As far as Gething and the Welsh branch of Labour goes – waste of space.

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