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First Minister urged to take action against landfill site owned by controversial campaign donor

14 May 2024 4 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething – Image: Senedd Cymru

Emily Price

Vaughan Gething has been urged to take action against a landfill site that has left locals “on all fours throwing their guts up” which is owned by the convicted polluter who donated £200,000 to his leadership campaign.

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

It’s owned by Resources Management (UK) Ltd which is part of the Cardiff-based Dauson Environmental Group.

It made the controversial 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 are near Newport.

Pembrokeshire County Council has backed legal action seeking an injunction over the Withyhedge landfill site after receiving legal advice from a senior barrister.

Resources Management has until today (May 14) to respond. Meanwhile Natural Resources Wales is pursuing enforcement action against the firm.

Warnings

In the Senedd on Tuesday, Leader of the Welsh Conservative group, Andrew RT Davies said the stench was “unbearable” for residents and that public health warnings had been issued in March and as recently as Friday (May 10) about the impact it could have on those living nearby.

He said: “One individual told me that at 6:30 in the morning, the smell was so strong, they were on all fours throwing their guts up.”

The First Minister responded saying NRW was monitoring the situation.

The Welsh Tory leader urged Mr Gething to “put on the record” a conflict of interest because the owner of the landfill had donated to his leadership campaign.

Conflict

The First Minister said he been clear about where “he can or can’t act and where there’s a conflict of interest”.

He added he hadn’t taken any action in this instance and was only responding to the question put to him by the Tory leader.

Mr Davies replied saying, “any other member would have to make that declaration”.

He said: “I hope you will make that declaration as it goes to the core of what many people in the locality perceive as influence and making sure things are remediated as quickly as possible.

“That tip needs to shut. It’s been run very badly and residents are being affected in their every day lives. That is just not good enough.”

He asked the First Minister to “send a clear message” that the Welsh Government will work with the regulator and the local authority to bring the situation to a close in a timely manner.

Mr Gething responded says if he was “conflicted out” then he can’t answer the question.

He said: “Actually, my record that has been updated and is available from Dauson that’s clear and on the public record. There’s no lack of clarity or honesty about that.

“I don’t think it does prevent me from setting out that the government’s position is that the issue needs to be resolved properly in accordance with the requirements of the regulator and of course as soon as possible.”

He added: “If the regulator want to talk to the government they can of course speak to the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs but they would not need to come to me.

“If they did, I would have to tell them that I cannot undertake any action in this matter but I can set out the overall position that the government expects in any instance where action is required by NRW or any other regulator.”

The opening weeks of the First Minister’s tenure have been plagued by questions about donations to his leadership campaign.

He maintains that all donations had been registered and recorded appropriately.

However, 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 leadership campaigns – including campaign finances.

The Welsh Tory Leader says the issue is having a “corrosive effect” on the Welsh Government.


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Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
11 days ago

Likely the smell is due to Hydrogen Sulfide a gas produced by anaerobic fermentation of the waste matter. There was a similar case in Staffordshire not long ago and the English authorities also did nothing. Hydrogen Sulfide is as poisonous as Cyanide. I am not aware of any effects of long term subacute exposure but there may be information in the literature. The locals ought to take advice about a civil action against the perpetrators with a view to financial compensation,

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