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Fresh call for action as Gething donor’s firm continues to emit noxious odour

22 May 2024 5 minute read
A demonstration against the stench coming from the Withyhedge landfill site.

Martin Shipton

A fresh call has been made for enforcement action to be taken against a waste firm owned by a convicted criminal who donated £200k to Vaughan Gething’s leadership campaign.

David Neal, who was given two suspended jail sentences for dumping toxic sludge in a protected wetland landscape near Cardiff, owns RML Ltd, whose Withyhedge landfill site near Haverfordwest has been emitting noxious fumes for the last eight months. Nearby residents say they are furious that Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the regulator, has so far failed to take decisive action against RML.

In March this year Dr Giri Shankar, Director of Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “Our current advice to local residents is that odours and emissions from this site may be harmful to health, and that they should keep doors and wind.”

Serious health conditions

A concerned local resident has compiled a list of serious health conditions that could arise as a result of exposure to the landfill site’s emissions.

Welsh Labour’s general election candidate for Mid & South Pembrokeshire, Henry Tufnell, has called on NRW to take immediate and decisive action after the May 14 enforcement notice deadline passed and yet failed to stop the odour emanating from the site.

Since September 2023 the local population has had to put up with a foul odour coming from the site. The odour is understood to be hydrogen sulphide and is being emitted in large quantities from the site due to a mixing of biodegradable waste and calcium sulphide (plasterboard). Residents reported the stink last weekend, as people were forced to stay inside despite the sunny weather as the odour continued to plague Pembrokeshire communities.

The situation at the Withyhedge landfill has become increasingly desperate, largely because members of the local community say has lost faith that NRW is willing and able to adopt the necessary measures to take control of the situation.

Mr Tufnell was out in Crundale on May 16, two days after NRW’s enforcement deadline and when the foul odour was still present. Residents were incredibly angry and told Mr Tufnell that they had simply given up reporting the odour issues to NRW because it was not making any difference in resolving the problem. A rally will take place on Saturday in Castle Square in Haverfordwest organised by the Stop the Stink campaign group.

Henry Tufnell visits Withyhedge landfill site

Mr Tufnell said: “I have written directly to NRW, calling them to action. It is deeply concerning that the stink from the Withyhedge landfill site is still blighting the lives of so many Pembrokeshire residents after the recent enforcement deadline from NRW passed. The time for half measures is over – NRW must take immediate and decisive action.”

‘Strength of feeling’

Huwel Manley, Head of South West Operations for NRW, responded: “We understand the strength of feeling amongst people living and working in the communities surrounding Withyhedge Landfill, and we too want to see the issues resolved at the site as soon as possible.

“The assessments we are carrying out to determine if site operator RML Ltd has complied with our most recent Regulation 36 Enforcement Notice. are complex and will take some time to complete. As part of this work, our officers are carrying out a full site landfill gas audit this week to examine the effectiveness of the landfill’s gas management system following improvements made in light of the enforcement notices.

“This includes an increased area of capping and the installation of additional landfill gas wells. Outside of the requirements of the enforcement notice, the site operator is also carrying out work to complete the capping of cell 8 which is due to finish this week.

“Odour assessments took place every day last week and over the weekend at various locations in and around communities surrounding Withyhedge Landfill, at varying times of the day and night. We know that odour continues to be detected and we will continue to carry out our assessments in the days and weeks to come to determine if any reduction in odour has been observed.

“Only when the site has been fully assessed, and reports from the site operator reviewed, will we be able to determine compliance with the enforcement notice and whether the action taken by the operator has reduced fugitive gas emissions. We will then be in a position to consider if any further enforcement action is required, looking at all options available to us under the regulations.”

Commenting on the source of the odour, a spokesperson for NRW said: “The Withyhedge Landfill permit does not allow the disposal of gypsum-containing materials, for example plasterboard, and we are not aware of this waste type having been accepted.

“Several serious non-compliances with permit conditions have been identified at Withyhedge Landfill in recent months and are subject to an ongoing investigation. The breaches identified to date do not relate to the types of waste being disposed of in the landfill.

“If members of the public have information related to concerns about the practices at the site, that information needs to be reported directly to NRW at the time of it happening or it being witnessed so that we can investigate.

“To report concerns on practices at the site call 0300 065 3000 or report online.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
22 days ago

If he was a mate of Vaughan Gething you’d think he’d get it sorted…

Still some time is going to be needed to fumigate the ‘great’ ministries of state after them Tories have been turfed out…

(Coffey’s office…all their offices will reek of idleness, bigotry, greed, cruelty and debauchery…other sins are available)

15 years: a childhood lived under Osborne’s to Sunak’s via May and IDS ‘parentage’…a tale of a hideous characters acting without restraint or compassion…

Sadists, often sons and daughters of the Manse campaigning under the flag of a religion…

Badly wired humans…

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
22 days ago

Same NRW that Gething was lobbying for them to lower environmental standards so that same company could dump toxic waste in the rivers. That was 2016. Gething has a long standing relationship with this criminal enterprise. He has to go

Simon Neville
Simon Neville
21 days ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

But … nothing new here. For a good century now, Labour grandees have treated the public purse as an asset for the proper benefit of themselves, their families, and their friends.

A Evans
A Evans
21 days ago
Reply to  Simon Neville

One day, one day these stupid Kabour voters will twig. PS. I am a socialist but I am ashamed of the power mad corruption within Wales Lobour. From the Senedd to local councils!

Simon Neville
Simon Neville
19 days ago
Reply to  A Evans

I don’t disagree with you.

A Evans
A Evans
21 days ago

Don’t worry, the firm has connections with the 1st Minister!

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